When Cyberactivism Fails to Mobilize: A Case Study on the Breast Cancer Meme

Cyberactivism is nothing new to the world of social media. People have their causes and charities they like to participate in, and they enjoy sharing their particular cause of charity with others online. Recently, I read a case study on breast cancer awareness month where organizations caused a stir with their social media marketing efforts to spread awareness. One of the popular breast cancer Facebook memes was a private message request sent where women were asked to put the color of the bra they were wearing as their status update. The point behind doing this was to get men who logged onto Facebook to wonder why all the women’s Facebook pictures were changed to a single color.

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Most of us have seen these types of cyberactivist activities online, and some of us even participated in them. However, there is a lingering question in the back of one’s mind when seeing these types of online charity causes: Does it even work? Sure, it brings awareness, which is one of the many hurdles for any cause to overcome, but does it lead to real-life action? According to the Centers for Disease Control, these online breast cancer awareness campaigns do very little to spread information about breast cancer. However, these online campaigns are not all in vain with them leading to self-check information and spreading prevention to the general public.

In order to benefit from cyberactivism, an organization must ask itself if they need to focus on spreading awareness or mobilization (or maybe both). So far, from what I learned in my social media marketing course, for any business or organization, there needs to be a specific goal in mind when creating a social media campaign. What is it that the business is trying to achieve? Is it to inform, create engagement, develop relationships, or generate more website traffic? These are just a few things a company can use social media for.

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  1. “Creating emotional real-life experiences for users is one of the biggest indicators of mobilization success. How do cyberactivism and other prosocial movements have a natural advantage to social media mobilization strategies? How can this be incorporated into a brand authenticity and mission statement?”

Let’s look at human behavior for that one. Every person has their own cause that they feel strongly about whether it’s because of a personal experience or identity. Therefore, we naturally are eager to share our cyberactivism efforts with others within our community and even get others to join in. Humans love having themselves associated with something good, especially since we want to do the right thing (at least most of the time).

When a company chooses to engage in prosocial movements, often that is a direct reflection of the company’s mission statement and/or brand. When engaging online, a brand must stay true to its identity no matter if it’s with a humorous post or with a charity cause.

2. “How did the breast cancer social media meme fall short of user mobilization? What changes could be made to make more of a difference to breast cancer causes?”

Though the breast cancer social media meme spread awareness, it didn’t exactly lead to real-life mobilization such as volunteering, donating money, signing a petition, or writing a letter. Though effective in getting the public to participate in the meme, there was no link or call to action for a donation, website link to donate or learn more, or to sign a petition. Next time, perhaps a more effective idea would be to include a direct link to donate so that it’s an easy and quick process for the audience.

One thought on “When Cyberactivism Fails to Mobilize: A Case Study on the Breast Cancer Meme

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  1. Interesting blog. I too feel that there could be more efforts to bring real awareness to issues such as breast cancer. The questions you pose are valid and need further study. Thank you for the enlightenment.

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