Facebook and a sea of cartoon faces: engaging awareness or a waste of time?

Like many people, I’m a big fan of Facebook.  I would go as far to say that I love it and, if it was taken from me tomorrow, I would – for a short while at least – feel a big ‘social media’ shaped void in my life! 

I lose count of how many times a day I log in, keeping abreast of what’s going on in my virtual world.  Personally I’m not a big fan of the games, but instead use it to keep in touch with old and new friends; post up pictures of me and my family and generally have a rant about the hot topic of the day. If you want to know what’s annoyed the hell out of me – or filled my heart full of joy – then my long history of status updates is the place to go! Or not – if you’re life is far more interesting than my own!

During one of my most recent visits, I saw a campaign asking for users to change their profile pictures to a cartoon character from their childhood in order to support the NSPCC’s ‘stop violence against children’ initiative. Prompting swift action, I’d soon turned myself into DangerMouse and urged my friends to do join in.

Over the next two days a sea of cartoon characters started to appear – bringing back fond memories of my favourite TV programmes (Sheerah; Superted; and the Care Bears, to name a few!). Great, I thought – it’s fun, nostalgic and, most importantly, for a good cause. And, with my PR hat firmly fixed to my head, I thought it was a fun and engaging way for the NSPCC to tap into social media and get their message across to a wider audience.

Some people, however, weren’t inclined to agree. Instead of adopting a cartoon picture, one friend updated her status to label the campaign a ‘complete waste of time’ and ‘if people really want to help charity why don’t they make a donation instead of wasting their time with cartoon pictures’.  I could see the point she was trying to make and it wasn’t long we were involved in an active debate – her; me; and about six of her FB friends – discussing the rhyme and reason behind this particular use of social media.

I remained firm in my position, suggesting that people could actually do both (that’s make a donation and be a cartoon superhero for the day!) and that the campaign had actually served a very big purpose indeed. Of course, I don’t have access to the stats that may or may not demonstrate how hundreds of more people signed up to make donations or monthly direct debits. But, as the debate continued throughout the day, we discussed everything from the role of social media, to the increasing need of awareness for violence against children in the UK. As with all debates, it drew to a natural close and I made my final point: love it or hate it, you can’t argue with the fact that it got us talking – about the small things and the bigger picture issues of the charity in question – and, from a campaign of this nature, what more could you want!

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