Posts Tagged ‘Journal of Consumer Research’

“Liking” on Facebook is a cheap, easy alternative to donating

November 8, 2013

For charities and other organisations dependent upon public donations, Facebook and other social media represent a glittering silver cloud with a very dark lining! Having an enormous reach via social media may seem like success but it could be counter productive. Potential donors presented with the alternative of clicking on a “like” button to making a real donation take the cheaper route. The more public the “like” the less likely the donation. They assuage their consciences and keep their pocket-books untouched!

Not really so surprising I suppose but a useful confirmation of behavioural tendencies.

Kirk Kristofferson, Katherine White, and John Peloza, The Nature of Slacktivism: How the Social Observability of an Initial Act of Token Support Affects Subsequent Prosocial Action, Journal of Consumer Research, Published by: The University of Chicago Press, Article Stable URL:


Would-be donors skip giving when offered the chance to show public support for charities in social media, a new study from the University of British Columbia’s Sauder School of Business finds.

“Charities incorrectly assume that connecting with people through social media always leads to more meaningful support,” says Sauder PhD student Kirk Kristofferson, who co-authored the forthcoming Journal of Consumer Research article.

“Our research shows that if people are able to declare support for a charity publicly in social media it can actually make them less likely to donate to the cause later on.”

The study results add fuel to recent assertions that social media platforms are turning people into “slacktivists” by making it easy for them to associate with a cause without committing resources to support it.

In a series of studies, researchers invited participants to engage in an initial act of free support for a cause – joining a Facebook group, accepting a poppy, pin or magnet or signing a petition. Participants were then asked to donate money or volunteer.

They found that the more public the token show of endorsement, the less likely participants are to provide meaningful support later. If participants were provided with the chance to express token support more privately, such as confidentially signing a petition, they were more likely to give later.

The researchers suggest this occurs because giving public endorsement satisfies the desire to look good to others, reducing the urgency to give later. Providing token support in private leads people to perceive their values are aligned with the cause without the payoff of having people witness it.

With the holiday season being the biggest fundraising period of the year, the researchers say it is vital that charities take another look at their strategies and plan appropriately.

The ease and painlessness of  “liking” actually degrades the quality of the connection – be it for donations or for representing support for people or causes. When a “supporter” has little else to do than to click a “like” button, that support is not worth very much.

In relationship selling, I used to advise our salesmen that the way to judge a relationship was to consider the kind of “favour” the relationship could allow and support without jeopardising the relationship. The strength or quality of a “social connection” is still – I think – to be judged by the width and breadth and weight of the service that can be initiated and carried by the connection without breaking it. A “like” is pretty light-weight as social connections go.

%d bloggers like this: