It’s always nice to see a good cause succeed. Take the recent no-makeup selfie campaign in aid of Cancer Research UK, for example, which backs up Smoking Gun’s entire proposition- providing tangible proof as to the value of engagement.
I’m often surprised at how much focus is still placed on the silent majority in digital PR. Major brands have wound up covered in egg when the truth about how active fans and followers are has finally outed. Entire business models are based on a mantra of ‘the more likes the better’. But, realistically, public relations communications are useless unless they can be converted into action and engagement.
More than £2million was raised for Cancer Research UK in just 48 hours, £8million in six days, through people posting pictures of themselves on Facebook and Twitter, sans slap. It all began as a gesture of support from American crime author Laura Lippman, who uploaded a photo of herself au natural in a bid to defend criticisms aimed at the looks of 81-year-old actor Kim Novak. The trend took off, and the organisation in question began asking people to add text donation codes to their photos, affording friends and acquaintances a chance to give money.
From one perspective this is the ultimate socmedia hijack, with Cancer Research UK re-appropriating Lippmann’s idea for its own benefit. And nobody here is knocking those responsible for doing so. A few online sceptics have raised concerns over the morality of comparing the ‘bravery’ of appearing as God intended to the genuine bravery involved in fighting rogue cells. And, rather bafflingly, thousands were mistakenly donated to other charities, including Adopt A Polar Bear and UNICEF, by less savvy supporters. But it’s safe to say we’re not alone in admiring this charitable use of initiative, which sets a real benchmark for success in the online sphere.
So what’s the genuine value of your communications- awareness, or actual action and real engagement? There’s so much emphasis placed on reaching milestones; from 1,000 Twitter followers to 1million Facebook Page fans. Yet these measurables don’t necessarily mean anything. You could have 500million, but that’s no use if those people never get involved with the company’s online presence. When there’s no interaction on the public’s part, and the conversation is one-sided, you might as well be filling your profiles and platforms with pictures of last night’s dinner.
Or at least that’s what my staff and I believe. As does The International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication, which will host Measurement Week from 15th-19th September 2014. Comprising a series of events set to take place across the UK, the hope is attending decision makers will understand the importance of adopting a system of analysis fit for the big data age. It’s a much-needed initiative, but my best advice is to beat the pack by starting to look at comms, tweaking and gauging campaigns from this 21st Century perspective today. I can guarantee the results will be startling.