“Like us on Facebook, and we will vaccinate zero children against polio.” a bold campaign headline coming from UNICEF Sweden urging donors that it is money they need, not likes.
UNICEF is taking an unconventional approach to bring attention to their campaign by explaining that simply liking their page on Facebook does not save the lives of children in need of vaccinations. Unicef Director of Communications Petra Hallebrant went on record saying, “We like likes, and social media could be a good first step to get involved, but it cannot stop there.”
The organization released a video of a young boy discussing with the camera how he worries about what could happen to him and his younger brother if he were to fall ill from not being vaccinated. He then ends the ad by reassuring himself that the amount of likes UNICEF gets on Facebook will keep him and his brother healthy and safe.
UNICEF Sweden acknowledges the good gestures of what they are referring to as “Slacktivism,” the practice of helping social causes through social media. Slacktivisim consists of liking a Facebook page, changing a twitter avatar to an icon related to a cause or sharing a photo on Pinterest. UNICEF Sweden and its advertising agency conducted research in conjunction with the market research institute, YouGov, to see what people in Sweden really thought about likes on Facebook. “One in five thinks that a ‘like’ on Facebook is a good way of supporting an organization,” says Hallebrant. “Two in three have ‘liked’ something on Facebook without caring about the message or issue. One in seven thinks that ‘liking’ an organization on Facebook is as good as donating money.”
UNICEF Sweden has not released whether or not the campaign’s approach was successful in terms of leading to an increase of donations. On their YouTube channel, rather ironically many of the comments are jokes about “liking” the video as the campaign has made it clear that “likes” are not the cure-all. Those behind the campaign say that regardless of the numbers and money the campaign generated, it has brought light to a serious situation and has sparked attention worldwide, and is arguably a success.
We want to hear your thoughts on slacktivism, dish it out here. Do you think likes are pointless?