While Facebook is often a repository for people to boast about their latest video slot scores or to share amusing videos, it can also be used as a valuable tool for philanthropic purposes. It’s with this charitable intent that the Anthon Berg Generous Store in Denmark utilized the largest of the social networks.
In February, the pop-up chocolate store opened its doors in Copenhagen. The catch: Rather than paying for boxes of candy with money, customers paid by agreeing to complete a good deed. The currency for each box of chocolate was an act of generosity, like fixing things around a friend’s house for a day, or speaking kindly to your mother for a week. To ensure that those buying the chocolate lived up to their intentions, checking out of the store required them to log in to their Facebook pages through iPads and post the promise to the recipient’s wall.
The idea is brilliant. By using positive motivation and encouraging generosity, the Anthon Berg brand was spread rapidly throughout the network. Capitalizing on the desire to implement social good as a currency is an idea that, if adopted by large corporations with deep pockets, could have significant impact.
Take the concept that step further: Rather than a box of chocolate, what if a company like Wal-Mart offered a stipend for free groceries to consumers in exchange for community involvement? The positive public relations opportunities are endless. At the same time, generosity and good will are spread.
Facebook can be just a fun way to waste time and catch up with friends. But a program like the one above could position the network in a whole new light. Remember what Uncle Ben told Peter Parker in the movie Spider-Man, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Here’s an opportunity for companies with influence to make a difference.
Facebook gets a lot of grief. Despite being the most heavily used social media platform, detractors frequently complain about the ways it doesn’t work. Facebook’s mobile apps and issues with privacy are often at the top of the list. But now and then a good Facebook story peeks out through the cracks in the sidewalk. The story of Bald Barbie is one such case.
The movement was started by a group of women who were bald themselves from chemotherapy or had children suffering from either the effects of treatment or other causes of hair loss like alopecia. More than 150,000 Facebook page Likes later, toy maker Mattel got the hint. The result: Hairless Barbie dolls will be distributed in 2013 to children’s hospitals.
As always, a few detractors are complaining that the dolls won’t be available through retail stores. That’s just negative thinking – Mattel is doing this right. The target market for the bald Barbie’s is not your typical Toys R Us shopper – it’s the kid going through a difficult time in her life. Directing their efforts to hospitals makes the most sense.
An added bonus: Now the movement has legs. A Facebook page is also up encouraging Hasbro to create a similar GI Joe product for boys.
In the past, organic write-in campaigns took years to gain attention. Social media has changed the timeline. It’s because of Facebook that the bald Barbie campaign has achieved its current level of success.
What other causes do you think would benefit from a strategic use of social media?
The big news in the social media space earlier this month was Facebook’s $1 Billion (yes, billion) acquisition of photo-sharing service Instagram. After the online screams of the agonized Instagram users who feared Facebook would crush their beloved system died down, the big question that experts began to ask was, “Why?”
One billion dollars is a lot of scratch to pay for an application that currently makes no money. Making that money back is going to take some time. Some postulated that it was to grab hold of Instagram’s estimated 30 million users, but that makes little sense. Facebook is already a social behemoth – another 30 million users isn’t worth the cost. Others suggested it was just to keep Google from grabbing hold. I get the idea of snatching up the hot product before your competition gets there first. But, again, $1 BILLION! Sorry, not buying it. The only explanation that seems to make even a little bit of sense is the desire to integrate a good mobile service into your platform. Facebook, whether they’ll admit to it or not, is pretty lousy at mobile. People use it but they don’t like it. Buying Instagram forces users to spend more time on with Facebook in the mobile environment, which means more opportunities to make money from them.
Still, it’s hard to escape that number. One billion dollars. It seems almost comical. I wonder if the creators of Instagram imagined something like this could ever happen. Most people are still scratching their heads.
What do you think of the purchase? Forward-thinking or pure folly?