An quick update on the science of slacktivism

Back in January, I posted about three studies on slacktivism.  And back in March, we looked at whether people who think of themselves as good do good things.  Generally, these studies found:

  • People tend to keep their commitments and do the good things they say they are going to.
  • They do this unless they did a public pledge first.  The public pledge seemed to allow them to manage their reputation as they wished, with not as much need to follow through.
  • Social media fundraising campaigns don’t really do much unless involving buckets, ice, and/or challenges.

There’s a new study out in the March edition of Sociological Science (yes, I know, March isn’t entirely new; my copy must have been held up in the mail by the fact that I am not a subscriber) that bolsters these claims.

They went through a sample of 3500 pledges for donations made through an online social media/donation facilitation platform.  Of those pledges, 64 percent were fulfilled, 13 percent were partially fulfilled, and 16 percent were deleted. However, people who broadcast their pledges on social were more likely to delete and not fulfill their pledge donations.  This fits the thesis of people who pledge do so largely to look good and are less likely to follow through.

They also found from using Facebook ads and other social media techniques, and I’m going to just let them tell this part from their abstract:

The experiment also shows that, although the campaigns reached approximately 6.4 million users and generated considerable attention in the form of clicks and “likes,” only 30 donations were made.

Please print out this quote and point to it every time someone says mail is dead because of low response rates.

So, to replay the recommendations from advocacy campaigns:

  • Do them.  A properly run advocacy campaign can increase the likelihood that someone will donate and take other actions for your organization.
  • Make them private.  Public petitions appear to satisfy a person’s desire to manage their reputation, so they were less willing to take other actions.
  • By extension, don’t do them on social networks.  Not only are they not public, but you do not have the easy wherewithal to communicate with them to get the first gift or convert to other activities.
  • Make the ask.  It can be as easy as having an ask for the donation on the confirmation page or receipt for a petition.  Folks who take private actions want to help and are in a mindset of helping.  I personally have seen advocacy campaigns with a soft ask after taking the petition raise more money than a hard ask to a full list.  Crazy, but true.

Thanks.  This is my first shorter weekend content.  Let me know if you liked or didn’t like at nick@directtodonor.com.  I saw the story and wanted to get the word out, but want to know from you, the reader, if this is valuable.

An quick update on the science of slacktivism

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