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UNICEF: They Just Don’t Understand Social Media


Sometimes Not for Profits and Charities diss social media to try and emotionally bully us into donating. It doesn’t work. Here’s UNICEF’s shocking attempt. Excellent example of mixing messages on mixed mediums – one voice on traditional media, opposite voice on social media.

Not For Profit likes are worth $214.81 according to this Not for Profit Benchmark social media survey.

What’s wrong with the image below? If you said “it’s created by an Ad agency that doesn’t understand social media and charges UNICEF for the privilege of alienating their community” you’d be partially right. BTW the causes they represent don’t suck. The way they go about alienating the community does. This ad is the equivalent of standing on a street corner with a cap in your hand and berating people for not giving up their coins. Even worse, it tells people off for doing EXACTLY what they are meant to do in social media – be the medium, the conduit, the C2C channel. UNICEF and their agency take the fallacious view that liking a campaign or a social object (status update/tweet) or sharing/forwarding a piece of information does nothing to increase donations. Check the JustGiving information at the bottom for a revelation in exactly how much a Facebook Like is worth in dollar terms. Shortsighted campaigns like this make it embarassing when Unicef come back later with a “please like us on Facebook” campaign to raise more awareness, donations and call to actions. You can’t have a call to action if you don’t have a community. And you have to have campaigns to keep a community involved. And you need people sharing and retweeting to grow  your community. Shock tactics like this are unworthy of organisations like UNICEF. And don’t tell me it’s just Sweden – they need a unified brand in a global Village. And don’t tell me they have top engagement worldwide – so does @BarackObama and he never talks to ANYONE on Twitter – just broadcasts. As always, your mileage may vary but remember: slactivism is a term made up by Media and simply not true. Check out RiotCleanUp or ChristChurchStudentArmy to see the opposite of “slactivism” on Facebook & Twitter.

facebook_unicef
Equivalent: Take out an ad in a newspaper gets zero donations.

The main issue for me is lazy-assed advertising. It’s easier to go for the cheap thrills, low hanging fruit, if-it-bleeds, it-leads nature of trashing a sacred cow (in this case Facebook) and attempt to take the higher moral ground. Why bother engaging with your community when you can denigrate them into donating? Just stand on a street corner berating passerbys for not donating. That works.

Where Forsman & Bodenfors, the Ad Agency behind this ahem brainwave falls down is in the absolute, undeniable, in-your-face nature of lack of undestanding on how social media can be used to create social agency by not for profits.

Unicef_satire

Compare JustGiving who are genuinely engaged with their community, who ACTUALLY know what to do with a Facebook Page that has Likes on it, besides sneer and passively aggressively suggest that “we have nothing against likes we just don’t see the value in them” type of statements. JustGiving found that a “Like” is worth 5 pounds – 1 pound more than Unicef needs for a vaccination. Go figure.

From JustGiving blog

Yesterday I spoke at the Social Media Academy’s Facebook PR & Marketing conference, and I was excited to share some new stats we had around the impact of Facebook on fundraising on JustGiving. If you’re interested in seeing an ROI on social media activity, then this post is definitely for you…

Back in September, we released an update to the site that enabled people to “recommend” JustGiving pages on Facebook (see new tools to help you raise more) using Facebook’s like’ buttons. Since then, we’ve been monitoring how that has been used to drive more people to fundraising pages (and charity pages too) and updating our analytics tracking to see how many of them donated.

We can only use reliable stats from the 17th November, as that was when we updated Google analytics to track funnels better, but the results are interesting.

Here are the numbers from the 17th November to the 4th December:

5,986: the number of ‘likes’ of JustGiving fundraising pages

16,278: the number of visits to JustGiving fundraising pages from Facebook ‘like’ links

933: the number of donations from people who clicked on ‘like’ links in Facebook

Those of you who are keen on maths (who isn’t?!) will have worked out from that…

6% of visitors from ‘liked’ links on Facebook end up donating

On average, six ’likes’ are needed for one donation (the ratio of ‘likes’ to actual donations is 6:1)

One ‘like’ is effectively worth around £5 (assuming the average donation is like the rest of the site: £32)

If we extrapolate that further, and take the overall amount of 26,981 distinct ‘likes’ since their release on the 29th September and assume each is worth £5, ‘like’ buttons have generated £134,000 to charities on JustGiving in the last two months.

What do you think? Here’s JustGiving’s slideshare

Slactivism or Social Agency? Activated community vs dismissive not for profit? I cannot tell you strongly enough how I think Unicef’s approach is wrong, dangerous and out of touch. The only slightly positive note is that we are talking about Unicef. But I’m not donating.

Dont forget this is an Advertising campaign, no social media engagement expected or indeed wanted. The funny thing will be once UNICEF figures out they need Likes to get donations. Suddenly they will be less dismissive of people doing what people do – passing things on, people being channels, mediums, media. Just wait.

FYI I donated for another campaign for another not for profit that raised money by asking “top bloggers” to promote a Like/Donate campaign. I did not run that campaign but I knew people who did. 80,000 participated. Unicef, you suck.

 

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

17 thoughts on “UNICEF: They Just Don’t Understand Social Media

  1. It’s too bad that Unicef seems to not have been utilizing the power of social media well. Thanks for an informative article.

  2. It’s too bad that Unicef seems to not have been utilizing the power of social media well. Thanks for an informative article.

  3. Interesting article, but as someone who has worked on a lot of successful donation campaigns, both online and off, a few points need clarification.

    1. Just Giving’s sums are misleading, as what really matters in terms of Likes to dollars is what is termed in the industry “donor care.” Theyare using the Texas Sharpshooter routine for their numbers.

    2. The UNICEF campaign is very smart for a one off tactic. I think you will find they aren’t dismissing likes (they even explicitly state this), they are simply tapping a sentiment that does exist, whether true or not. You may have confused who the target market is – it isn’t actually aimed at the people who signal Likes on Facebook, it is aimed at the people who think Likes on Facebook are worthless, which is rightly or wrongly the majority of the population. Appealing to simple tribalism, and it works. They well get people nodding their head, and these people will have a greater likelihood of donating.

    3. What really matters as proof of online fundraising success is to show that the income is supplementary income, where it is derived from people who would otherwise not donate, rather than digita being the source of donation – 2 very different things.

    Cheers,
    Peter Bray

  4. Interesting article, but as someone who has worked on a lot of successful donation campaigns, both online and off, a few points need clarification.

    1. Just Giving’s sums are misleading, as what really matters in terms of Likes to dollars is what is termed in the industry “donor care.” Theyare using the Texas Sharpshooter routine for their numbers.

    2. The UNICEF campaign is very smart for a one off tactic. I think you will find they aren’t dismissing likes (they even explicitly state this), they are simply tapping a sentiment that does exist, whether true or not. You may have confused who the target market is – it isn’t actually aimed at the people who signal Likes on Facebook, it is aimed at the people who think Likes on Facebook are worthless, which is rightly or wrongly the majority of the population. Appealing to simple tribalism, and it works. They well get people nodding their head, and these people will have a greater likelihood of donating.

    3. What really matters as proof of online fundraising success is to show that the income is supplementary income, where it is derived from people who would otherwise not donate, rather than digita being the source of donation – 2 very different things.

    Cheers,
    Peter Bray

  5. “And don’t tell me it’s just Sweden – they need a unified brand in a global Village.” – *facepalm* You do understand that different market need different approach right? A unified brand doesn’t mean unified campaigns.. Perhaps it’s time to brush up on your international marketing and communication knowledge 😛

  6. “And don’t tell me it’s just Sweden – they need a unified brand in a global Village.” – *facepalm* You do understand that different market need different approach right? A unified brand doesn’t mean unified campaigns.. Perhaps it’s time to brush up on your international marketing and communication knowledge 😛

    1. Oops, missed this. Yes, I worked in Asia etc for 10 years. International marketing has always been poor because they do local badly and internationally not at all. Everything ends up being colour by numbers from head office, yet the customer is left with messages like “we’re a global brand but you have to send that o/s for help”. When we are talking digital/social we ARE talking global village, not local tho. And Sweden is not into dissing their family and friends on Facebook anymore than Australia US or UK are… no?

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  8. Umm, only created the most successful social media campaign in SWE that went viral around the world? I wouldn’t call that not understanding social media…

    UNICEF’s aim is to help in a concrete way, I think this campaign was fantastic in getting people to think about slactivism and definitely raised UNICEF’s profile internationally.

    PS. They never asked not to ‘Like’, but merely pointed out that ‘Liking’ in itself doesn’t actually help anyone in need. UNICEF’s Likes are safe 🙂

    1. Sunny, more successful than NoMakeUpSelfie? or Icebucket Challenge both of which would be trivial under the UNICEF ambit? I doubt it 😉

      1. Haha, all three are great using social media. Funnily enough, I had to google the no make-up challenge, as none of my friends nor myself shared that at the time (or is it still happening?). It’s all about target groups 🙂

        The two examples you mentioned happened after the Unicef one, and I am sure there will be better ones yet to come. The point was, the Unicef flicks were successful, it WAS the most successful social media campaign in SWE at the time (perhaps still?), and the message does stay in people’s minds. There is heaps of articles and studies done on the success of the unicef campaign now that demonstrate that quite well 🙂

        i wonder how many people actually remember many facts about cancer or whatever the disease was that the ice bucket challenge was about (i participated and have forgotten), as all they did was take photos and vids of themselves, rather that really thought about something behind it?

  9. I think you missed the part where the whole campaign was meant to elicit humor in the country of Sweden. I feel your view on this topic is very singular (American) because most Swedes would’ve laughed because they simply get the joke. In addition to culture, you missed the part that this was only meant for Swedes and the Swedish consumer market. You also forgot to add the number of children that were saved from this campaign from Polio. You make some great points and it would be valid if this campaign was launched in the US where humor has a different face but this was one of UNICEF Sweden’s most successful marketing blitz.

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