When an organization wants to encourage people to contribute to its cause in some way, it seems like a good idea to encourage them to provide an initial token display of support. A booster might wear a T-shirt, sign a petition, or join a Facebook group.
Makes sense, right? Not necessarily.
Some critics are worried about the phenomenon they term slacktivism; small and relatively meaningless expressions of support for important causes such as liking a charity on Facebook that substitute for donations or volunteering.
One study found that if the initial display is visible to others, this public behavior can actually reduce the likelihood that the person will contribute beyond that. Under some circumstances the need to make a positive impression on others is satisfied by the public display, so the person exhibits slacktivism and doesn’t bother to do anything else to support the cause.
So, the irony is that by encouraging people to do a little, we may discourage them from doing a lot.
The rise of slacktivism has implications for political and charitable causes, but for commercial ones as well. When your customers “likes” you on Facebook, will she think she’s “checked the box” and now go on her merry way?
In order to encourage true brand activism, regard this as just the first step in a process of engagement. She’s opened the door, now encourage her to walk through it.