What’s the Price of Social Media? If You Have to Ask…

December 10th, 2010

As much as social media gets hyped as the ongoing, forever-happily-ever-after next big thing, this blog has soul-searched and been willing to criticize the grandeur often associated with the relevant platforms.  We have preached over and over that communication channels are always second to content – and that will never change in the public relations industry.

So it should come as no surprise that we’re not particularly impressed with the latest viral Facebook fad, where site users changed their profile pictures to their favorite childhood cartoon character.  To promote advocacy efforts on child abuse.  That’s it.

Er… What?!?  Ok, let’s pick this social media disaster apart:

Who’s in charge? When your business or organization launches a social media campaign, you must communicate very clearly who’s running the show.  If you can’t get this basic point across, the train’s gonna run off the rails.  We think this might be the online HQ… or is it this?

What’s the big idea? We ask this to learn more about the social media campaign, and also in the “hey, who’s that in my chair” sort of way.  Aside from making people reminisce for a few moments about childhood nostalgia, what exactly is the connection between a cartoon character and ending child abuse?  We can’t think of a single answer that passes the smell test, and that indicates the premise of the campaign is flawed.

Where’s the call to action? In other words, what are the next steps campaign organizers want users to take?  Wait… you mean there aren’t any, beyond admiring your new profile pic?  A successful social media advocacy campaign must encourage users to take some specific action that furthers the advocacy angle.

Is this even real? At this point, the whole thing gets so absurd that we wonder if it’s a hoax.  Apparently we’re not alone.  When a vast number of people think your social media campaign is a joke, that gives the effort the kiss of death.

This debacle should serve as a lesson to future social media campaigns – vet the basics and determine the value of what you’re asking for from the public.

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