Yesterday, I wrote a post about the celebrity Digital Death campaign that was intended to raise money for AIDS relief in India and Africa. I had no idea that on the very same day, it all ended when Stewart Rahr, a pharmaceutical executive handed over $500,000 at the request of the celebs enabling them to jump back on Twitter. I found out through Facebook when a friend, Mateo Gutierrez , had posted a NY Post article about the news.
I don’t know why, but I often say or do things that are (by sheer coincidence) related to other events that I had no knowledge of. I get this feedback from other people quite a bit.
The main site for the Digital Death campaign is Buylife.org. Today they were able to announce their accomplishment of reaching the $1,000,000 mark.
With your help we raised over $1,000,000 to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa and India. Your generous donations will help bring critical care and medicine to the millions affected by this horrible disease. But so many more still need help. Please continue to BUY LIFE – the one thing none of us can alive without.
Here is a screenshot from their homepage today.
A Dose of Realism
The NY Post article mentioned that the stars were frustrated by how long it was taking to reach the 1M mark. They thought it would take 24 hours to a week at the most.
I am not sure how they reached this conclusion. But this type of scenario is all too familiar in the world of marketing. It’s natural for people to want to know how long it will take for a campaign to accomplish it’s goals. It’s also common for marketers to come up with projections that only amount to wishful thinking.
The truth is that most projects will experience delays, especially when it comes to getting people to act.
Because of this, I wrote a previous post about anticipating realistic outcomes.
Lesson Learned: No one can serve as a fortune teller before the start of a campaign, unless the exact variables and results have been repeated numerous times in the past. Also there is a dynamic called the Law of Unintended Consequences, where “actions of people…always have effects that are unanticipated or unintended.”- Rob Norton, author and consultant.
Behaviorism Helps Explain
Most of what happens in the world of marketing and social media can be explained through the findings of research psychology. These arenas have yet to coalesce.
The word “research” is not one to be taken as sheer fluff. Experiments in this area involve researchers who repeat trials over and over until a result is statistically reliable (not due to chance). The principles of behavior have been studied in this fashion. They weren’t just made up.
According to these theories, behaviors are universally driven by the consequences that follow. If you want to increase the frequency of a particular behavior, it has to be met with a consequence that is valuable to the subject.
The Digital Death campaign wanted internet users to make donations within a short time frame. In this scenario, there was no consequence for the targeted behavior (texting to donate).
“I am not going to tweet unless you donate” is contingency called extinction, when you with hold a consequence altogether. According to research, this will reduce the likelihood of a particular behavior, instead of increasing it.
A Celebrity Campaign That Illustrates Positive Reinforcement
Twitchange is a charity auction site powered by celebrity influence. Participants donate. In exchange their favorite celebrity retweets, follows or mentions them, depending on a bidding process.
So the behavior of donating receives the positive reinforcement of being acknowledged by a famous celeb. This works in alignment with behavioral laws.
This probably explains how the Haitian relief campaign managed to receive over $1.5 million for emergency tents after the earthquake in Port Au Prince. More
Lesson Learned: Behavior operates according to dynamics that have been studied by researchers. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Create strategies that make sense according to behavior principles.
Yeah, I am a little disappointed that the celebrities of the Digital Death campaign didn’t hold their ground. But I guess there is a bright side to many things in life. Even if Stewart Rahr gave the pivotal contribution, at least the targeted level of donations became more quickly available to help AIDS victims.