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Monday, July 30, 2012

Facebook "like" campaigns

The proliferation of so-called Facebook "like" campaigns has become a daily reality for most Facebook users. It's pretty much impossible now to miss these "like" or "share" campaigns, which all follow a similar formula.

On it's surface, these "fund-raising" efforts seem like a near perfect use of social media to benefit the less fortunate among us. A brief search for "like" campaigns reveals many such efforts, which all ask for users to "like" or "share" the Facebook post, promising to donate money to "insert cause here", when a certain number is reached.

This format is so popular, that an entire business model has emerged which teaches people how to create and promote these campaigns

The problem here is that the vast majority of these campaigns are just "for profit" companies exploiting people's  desire to help others.

Here's how it works:

  • Find a person, group or animal in need. (Much more effective if there is a sad photo of the subject available.)
  • Create a website which purports to be a "charity" asking for donations for the subject.
  • Create a Facebook campaign which claims a money donation for the subject if people will only "like" or "share" your Facebook post.
  • Link to your "charity" website which asks for actual donations.
  • Profit!
Here's a current example:


If we follow the instruction on this post we are directed here:

Where we find that almost anyone can create a campaign and receive donations. And this website pockets a reported 5% of your donations.

"Today, campaigns that raise money for medical funds make up about 17 percent of all user activity. Campaigns for school tuition, which make up 11 percent of activity, and those for volunteer trips, at 10 percent, round out the top three use cases.
While it has gotten a slow start relative to some other platforms, GoFundMe has seen 20 percent growth month-over-month since last October. It charges a 5 percent fee for its campaigns and last month pulled in more than $2 million. Based on its current growth trajectory, GoFundMe expects to raise more than $37 million in for 2012."

That's $100,000 profit for this company... in a month. They do this with a whopping 4 employees.

Even if nobody donates actual money, these companies still get paid. Google and other search providers track the number of visitors a website receives. These search engines "rank" the popularity of websites based on the number of visitors you attract. (Among other things) This translates into "page rank" which is used to calculate the relative value of your website. Another important factor in determining PageRank are the website's InLinks. How many other websites link to your website, and what is their PageRank? The higher the linking site's PageRank, the more Rank points your site receives as a result.

I do this myself, right here on this blog.

Here's a shoe ad:

What I don't do is try to trick you...

So these campaigns basically translate our collective good intentions, into a marketing tool they use to promote their websites, as well as their customers. They can sell links to other websites from their higher ranking website for a profit.

If you click through to the linked website for most of these charity campaigns, what you will find is nothing more than a clever marketing scheme designed to leverage this process for profit.

Worse, none of these companies are sending any donations of their own for your "like" or "share". There is also no guarantee that actual donations ever reach the subject of the campaign.

There are some great charities out there which will use your donations to actually help others... but Facebook "like" campaigns are not doing what you think they are.

I would use the word SCUM, but I didn't want to insult actual scum.

1 comment:

Carolle said...

Thank you Aaron. Is that shoe for sale? Where do I send the