The social web—Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc.–makes it easy for all of us to comment and share messages about social issues. We believe we’re doing good in the world, but are our actions having any measurable effect? Or are we just “slactivists”?
Here’s the Wikipedia definition:
Considered a pejorative term that describes “feel-good” measures, in support of an issue or social cause, that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction…Examples of activities labeled as “slacktivist” include signing internet petitions, the wearing of awareness ribbons or awareness bracelets with political messages, putting a ribbon magnet on a vehicle, writing blogs or statuses about issues on social networking sites, joining a Facebook group, posting issue-oriented YouTube videos, or altering one’s personal data or avatar on social network services.
This is a question of meaningful engagement, and it challenges marketers in for-profit corporations just as much as activists, so the debate isn’t limited to nonprofits. Some quotes from the SXSW session:
I don’t like the term “slactivism” at all. Anything that drives awareness to a cause is very valuable. Driving awareness is engagement.
The average Facebook user has 130 friends. If you like a page, it gets broadcast to your community. This is valuable activity.
If we can get someone to take any action, even clicking a “Like” button, that can lead to other things. We are now friends. We have a relationship that didn’t exist before.
Don’t say it lacks heart and soul to just watch a YouTube video. These are demonstrations of feeling and heart. You watch the story and experience emotions that make you want to do something.
Sometimes people can’t volunteer but they have a Facebook page, a Twitter account, or a blog. We think of them as our virtual volunteers and we appreciate them.
Yep, we constituents are doing just what we should—passing on important messages from nonprofits (or businesses), effectively extending their reach and influence by lending them ours. The next step is up to them: converting us to donors, activists, board members, or avid consumers. The trick is figuring out how to do that without turning us off. It’s a different formula for each organization, based on their unique mission and the demographics (or psychographics) of their constituents.
FYI, I recommend this excellent post from Mashable. It provides more guidance on engaging “slactivists,” and explains why we really should stop using that term.
Tell them what they are doing right or wrong. Let them know what it would take to get you more engaged. And especially if it’s a cause you really care about, think about taking that next step in your involvement.