Social Media Slacktivism?

Social Media Slacktivism or Something Bigger?

Julia Claire Campbell Marketing, Nonprofits, Online Fundraising, Social Media 1 Comment

Social Media Slacktivism?

photo credit: slworking2 via photopin cci

Does the recent success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge leave you feeling exhilarated, or skeptical?

There certainly were a variety of lively opposing viewpoints presented at the most recent #CommBuild and #FundChat nonprofit Tweet chats!

I participated in the challenge, and continue to believe that it is a big opportunity for the sector to examine the way it communicates and reaches out to new supporters.

WBUR presents two views on the Ice Bucket Challenge: , one against, written by surgeon Heena Santry and a pro viewpoint by student Eric Hansson.

Santry worries that the nature of the challenge is simply a case of “me too-ism”, with no real substance behind participating.

Hansson counters that while pouring a bucket of ice water on your head will certainly not cure ALS, it exposes the disease to more people, and raises money for a cure.

Seth Godin wrote a defense of this kind of so-called “slacktivism” on his blog, and I (as usual) completely agree with him when he writes:

But I think these slacktivists have accomplished two important things at scale, things that slacktivists have worked to do through the ages:

  1. They’ve spread the word. The fact is that most charities have no chance at all to reach the typical citizen, and if their fundraising strategy is small donations from many people, this message barrier is a real issue. Peer-to-peer messaging, even if largely ego-driven, is far better than nothing. In a sideways media world, the only way to reach big numbers is for a large number of people to click a few times, probably in response to a request from a friend.
  2. Even more important, I think, is that they normalize charitable behavior. It’s easy to find glowing stories and infinite media impressions about people who win sporting events, become famous or make a lot of money. The more often our peers talk about a different kind of heroism, one that’s based on caring about people we don’t know, the more likely we are to see this as the sort of thing that people like us do as a matter of course.

Spreading the word and normalizing the behavior. Bravo.


[Read more at and Seth Godin’s blog]

Have you participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge? Why or why not?

Comments 1

  1. Diana Altobelli

    I find it interesting that you quoted Seth Godin saying users think a click, like or mention as an actual form of causing change. I don’t think we are giving people enough credit as being a good person and unless somewhat donated I think that would be the actual action of partaking in the cause. However, I do believe other campaigns do use “slacktivism for sure, don’t get me wrong . Although ALS may or may not have made it me-too-ism (love this phrase by the way) I think it has created substantial awareness for something that may never see a lot of funding because so few people have it. Especially in comparison to other illness/or diseases such as breast cancer. Great post I love seeing both sides of the story here.

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