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How Social are Your Social Media?

Author: Luc Malcorps

Have you asked yourself lately how social your social media really are?

Campaign managers across the world have embraced social media as part of their mix. But have they really, though? Are they ready to engage in real interaction?

We all agree adding a button on a web page or asking for ‘likes’ is not what it’s about. Engaging in social media in a coherent and dynamic way requires a ‘leap of faith’: transparency and a clear conversation policy are important ingredients for success.

Image: sparked.com

The world of charities and NGO’s has embraced social media as part of their mix, in order to create rich interactions. It is overflowing with great ideas. In fact, some initiatives are true examples of how any organization or business can leverage value via web engagement. The key to their success lies in honesty and stepping forward in a credible way to reach fans, engage them, amplifying their participation.

Here are three initiatives that show how you can be really social in using your social media, getting the most out of digital campaigns.

Médecins sans frontières (MSF) uses Facebook in an original way. In 2011 they launched a striking and highly successful “I Like MSF” campaign.

The first aim of the action was to make people aware of the importance of the organization’s relief work. MSF also hoped that this campaign would encourage people to volunteer. Basically, everyone could borrow his Facebook profile for one day to MSF. The NGO would then be able to adapt the image of the profile, post some updates, add pictures and video along with the personal messages of the user.

The result was spectacular. 40.000 people ‘donated’ their Facebook profile to MSF during a whole day. The number of followers on Twitter tripled and fans on Facebook increased five-fold.


Sparked is another interesting initiative that maximizes the use of community mechanisms to create engagement around their cause. Sparked is a good will matchmaker. It enrolls people and organizations with competences in digital communication, in order to help charities via micro volunteering.


When you register, you fill in some information about the causes you are interested in (environment, civil rights, etc.) and your skills (social media, marketing, design, etc.). Then you receive requests matching both.

The same challenge is proposed to several persons and organization sharing the same interest. Once you answered, you can get “likes” from other users and from the requester.


Scott Harrison’s “Charity:water” campaign offers another lesson in efficient social media use, well beyond the world of good will initiatives. The primary fund-raising tool of this organization is to persuade donors to “give up” their birthdays to raise money for wells in Africa.



In order to succeed, the website offers you tips and tricks and all support to get you going to become a campaigner. With its original simplicity in the messages and its polished design, the charity every year brings clean water to billions of people from the poorest countries.

The biggest strength of Charity: Water is the deep integration of social media mechanisms from the conception of the website to the use of external social platforms, changing visitors to active, successful campaigners. It uses social media (mostly Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr) to share valuable contents, images and videos. This way, the organization leverages the real relationships of people to create awareness and raise funds for its cause.

Charity: Water perfectly integrates the core values of social media. It is totally transparent (like water), showing the donators how their money is used and the concrete impact of their donation. And it uses rich, sharable media, such as pictures and GPS coordinates. These are regularly posted to allow the donators to follow the activities at “their” wells. And it works. Scott Harrison is a leader in his field, recognised by many as a visionary with an efficient approach that really moves mountains. His story in Wired is an eye opener.


These 3 examples show how charities and social media reinforce one another.

The motivation and benefits offered by charity donations are very similar to those of social media. Both thrive by the desire to show yourself in the best possible light. With a proper and integrated approach of social media, charities can strongly reinforce the benefits they create for their donators.

The strategies and mechanisms used in social media by the goodwill world offer great lessons for profit organizations. The desire to be liked and respected, to be part of groups that embrace us for who we are, is a universal driver. We consume not only for the rational benefits of the products and services we buy. The image they give us, the personal feel good factor and the group recognition are valuable bonuses for our ego.

So, using social media to reinforce the consumers’ ego can lead to a higher brand preference. Not a bad way to get extra return on investment on social media for brands. And of course, for charities as well!

– Written by Leila Loukili, Yann Lebout and Luc Malcorps –



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