Sunday

Social Proofing and Public Diplomacy

Much has been written about the US State Department spending USD 630,000 to "buy millions of Facebook 'likes' on it's Facebook page. A story by AFP in the Indian newspaper Mint reported the following,
"A scathing report by the department’s independent watchdog took the coordinators of its social media outreach policy to task saying it needed to “direct its digital advertising to specific public diplomacy goals ...
The report by the Office of the inspector general found that two advertising campaigns launched in 2011 and 2012 cost some $630,000 with the “goal of building global outreach platforms for engagement with foreign audiences by increasing the number of fans... on four thematic Facebook properties.”
Many in the bureau criticize the advertising campaigns as ‘buying fans’ who may have once clicked on a post or ‘liked’ a photo but have no real interest in the topic and have never engaged further.."
While the idea of directing tax dollars to buy Facebook 'likes' may seem atrocious to many but the criticism is not fair. While the amount spent may be debated, but the buying of 'likes' reflects the State Department's astute marketing sense and aggressive style - which is good. It also shows an understanding of the concept of 'social proofing' that matters in digital marketing,
"an attempt to guide user behavior by showcasing social influence. Facebook ‘Like’ is the most common example"
A higher ratio of Facebook Likes implies higher influence, popularity and more often than not influences others to explore. People are more likely to engage with a page that has already received large perceptible acceptance. 

While some may feel that the ideal scenario is to build the fan page organically; it is time, effort and resource intensive and promoting the page can take much longer. Also, keep in mind that it is dependent on posting meaningful content ... and achieving the level of streamlined collaboration that is required to source content within a bureaucracy, and the vastness of the State Department, would have made organic growth difficult.  Nonetheless, by making its page dynamic and reaching out to a larger group, specific public diplomacy goals would have been realized by more engagement. 

Similar to 'Likes' on Facebook,  Twitter following is another example of social proofing. See the following infographic from social selling university on the practice of buying Twitter followers. Do I see Obama?




Suggestions/Critiques welcome.

-- Madhur
Post a Comment
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...