A tweet or status update is so easy to publish – and “Please vote” is such a small favor to ask of your social network.
It’s just a quick click, right?
But as Chris Brogan points out, in The Problem with Social Only Nonprofit Campaigns,there’s a cumulative effect of all those social media requests.
By pushing a heavy campaign through something like Twitter to get votes for one’s Facebook, there’s a problem with muddying that particular stream. Everyone thinks “it’s just one tweet,” but they don’t see the other side of all the requests, and/or the companies pushing these types of vote-grabbing campaigns don’t realize the digital littering this kind of method gets.
Yes, yours is a good cause.
Yes, a click to vote takes – what? – maybe thirty seconds, tops?
The first five or ten requests, no problem.
But social media requests for clicks, tweets, votes, etc., in the end, are no different than the various other demands that non-profits make on their supporters. And just as the wise non-profit administrator won’t risk burning out volunteers with too heavy a workload, or alienating long-term donors with ever-escalating appeals, non-profits (and the individuals who support and promote them in social media) need to be aware of the growing risk of “voter fatigue.”
Push it too far – your former fans may start clicking “Unlike” or “Ignore.”
And to what purpose?
For the winning organization, a lump sum of anywhere from a few thousand dollars to five figures. For those who have just taxed the patience and attention of their social networks to the limit, yet failed to win a prize – nothing. Chris Brogan suggests:
I wish every vote cost $5, and that the $5 went into a pool for the winners. Hell, I wish every tweet requesting votes came with some kind of donation aspect to it. Then we’d raise money on the way to raising money.
The Nonprofiteer’s Kelly Kleiman rang the same alarm bell about social media contest for corporate funding in a strongly worded article, What's Wrong With Chase Community Giving?, at the Huffington Post:
It's called "crowd-source philanthropy," but it's not philanthropy at all: it's "crowd-manipulation marketing." ...
This lazy and manipulative approach to corporate giving also diverts the attention of nonprofits from real fundraising – which involves long-term relationships and commitment to mission – to point-and-click fundraising, which costs "donors" nothing and therefore gives them no stake in the institution.
Barbara Talisman’s take on Nonprofits and Social Media Contests is to question whether it’s worthwhile for a non-profit to spend time “engaging” volunteers, donors, follower and friends to vote in a popularity contest for a chance at a prize -- instead of “truly engaging on and off social media and raising significant money for their mission on a regular basis AND building a base of support they can cultivate.”
What do you think?
Is taking part in an online “Vote for Me” contest a cost-effective way for small non-profits to chase the chance of thousands of dollars in corporate funding?
What benefits or drawbacks do you see in the “crowdsource philanthropy” social media campaigns?
Suggestions for further reading:
Cause Marketing that Leads to Real Social Change
Can the Contest Craze Sustain Itself
Nonprofits Find Social Media Present New Challenges