UNICEF and the “Likes Don’t Save Lives” Campaign
Alyce interviews Tim O’Connor, Director of UNICEF, Sydney
The “Likes Don’t Save Lives” campaign was a huge hit on social media. This was a Unicef Sweden campaign – is this the position of Unicef Australia – that likes don’t save lives?
“Social media is a vital tool in sharing what UNICEF is focusing on in the 190 countries in which we work and we are actively engaged in Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, google+ etc.”
“Importantly too it’s a vital mechanism to hear back from people who are interested in our work and this enables our staff to interact with people from across Australia and the world in a manner that is both enlivening and at times quite challenging.
“The ‘likes don’t save lives’ campaign was developed as to create a debate and discussion around social media engagement. We certainly received some criticism from various social media professionals but the general public response was actually very supportive of this approach. It is our view that social media engagement whether it be likes or RTs or whatever form the engagement takes are vital steps in actually getting people educated and activated on issues for where they can make a difference. Social media is a powerful way to foster this engagement but it remains just one of many ways to encourage supporters and potential supporters to partake in the political protest.
How is Unicef going (in Australia)? Do you need more money, more volunteers, more awareness, or do you feel that Aussies are not ‘slacktivists’?
“UNICEF Australia is very generously supported by Australians. Our income has doubled over the last three years and the number of active supporters who are engaging in our campaigns has grown exponentially. We have just finished the ‘Promise Me’ campaign which has seen more than 500 volunteers across the country mobilise more than 25,000 Australians to keep our politicians accountable to the promises they have made to the world’s poorest people.
“There is always an element of ‘slacktivism’ in any ill-thought out campaign. The frustrating thing for an organisation like UNICEF who are encouraging young people to participate in the political process is a campaign like Kony 2012. Although incredibly successful in garnering interest, the ‘ask’ was poorly strategized. Young people, particularly those were engaging in their first act of political engagement where left quite disempowered when Kony was not captured. Kony of course should be brought to justice but the challenge of distilling this very complex situation where there are child soldiers, extreme poverty, sex slaves and a culture of impunity, down to one person and one outcome does not do the people of Uganda who have suffered and survived the conflicts in this region, any justice at all.
Do you ever (personally) like and share charity or cause memes yourself? If not why not? If so, why and what type?
“I’m actively engaged in many social media platforms and love to see what is new and what is working and effective.
“Although devastated by the decision of Tony Abbott to cut aid on the eve of the election, the http://budgetsmuggler.com/ reaction did bring a bit of levity whilst making a powerful political point.
“Some of the best social media work is actually being conducted by Government services. I think the emergency services responses following the Queensland floods was a real breakthrough in showing the humanity and humour of people whilst still delivering often life-saving information. The FWD http://action.usaid.gov/ campaign out of USAID was also spectacularly successful in garnering awareness for a largely overlooked crisis that was affecting more than 12 million people. Quite a breakthrough for a government department that delivered tens of millions of twitter and facebook mentions.
Have you ever seen someone really “get it wrong” when they were trying to help out an organisation? Is this becoming more prevalent?
“Planning is crucial to a successful social media campaign. Having highly trained staff that are resourced to be able to respond to feedback is crucial. This keeps the campaign on track. Yet the nature of social media means it can head off in many directions and this is a risk that you have to plan for. Scenario planning is key and ensuring you have the objective is well thought through and your solution has to be workable and be able to be implemented.
“Of course there are many examples of well-intentioned campaigns that have gone off the rails in the not for profit sector and amongst private companies. Planning is key but ensuring you have the ability and capacity to deal with the unexpected is also an important element of success.
If people in Australia are passionate about a particular cause, what do you suggest they do?
“Get online and find out more information about what you are interested in – and then work out how you can volunteer or engage more deeply with the organisation. I’m biased of course but Unicef.org.au twitter @unicefaustralia or UNICEF Australia on Facebook are great places to start.