With the advent of Social Media, cause marketers have a new medium to reach out to people and garner support. It is a great medium to reach out to like-minded people and to the very least spread the message. We saw the beginning of this at the time of the Mumbai blasts and more recently the Anna Hazare ‘India Against Corruption’ and now the Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandez ‘Zero Tolerance Campaign’. Though each of the causes are very important in its own right, I thought it would be a good idea to compare two of these campaigns to give us a sense of what the digitally social person is interested in. For the purpose of coming to a quick analysis I have concentrated on the two big social media websites - Facebook and Twitter.
Let’s look at the Anna Hazare ‘India Against Corruption’ Campaign first.
The campaign was a national campaign and started off as a merely offline campaign and had a huge media backing. Till date, you have a lot of various groups and pages of Anna Hazare and the cause on Facebook. The movement though a predominantly offline one soon spread digitally. A page with the same name as the cause ‘India Against Corruption’ has as much as half a million followers. But with so many pages on Facebook pretty much saying the same thing, it leaves you wondering which page is the one you need to follow. Though you will find a lot of chatter of Anna Hazare online there is no concentrated effort to channel this chatter. The page however does not have any info/updates about the drive and the progress of drafting the Lokpal Bill. My observations, while reading most of the chatter online, was most people were not very clear about the details about the bill but supported the drive because the drive was against corruption - something that was simple enough to understand. On Twitter, the chatter was much more channeled and organised. Two hashtags were created (#isupportannahazare and #janlokpal) and they had an official handle too (@janlokpal) that has about 178,130 followers. Today they are in the news for all the wrong reasons but the fight still goes on judging from the never-ceasing tweets.
Now let’s have a a look at the Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandez ‘Zero Tolerance Campaign’.
The movement started post the brutal killing of two young boys Keenan and Reuben in the city of Mumbai in the presence of an impotent crowd whilst they were trying to defend the honor of the women they were with. Being that the crime was local, the story got extremely minimal media publicity. The outcry started online soon the chatter online was too difficult for the media to ignore. The cause started as Justice for the death of these two brave individuals and quickly moved into a ‘Zero Tolerance Campaign’ prompted by the appalling handling of the case. This was a movement started by the youth and targeting the youth and Facebook was the ideal place to find them. The response was astounding, garnering support from over a 100,000 individuals in less than a month and still increasing rapidly. If you do follow the group, started by their friends, you will get detailed updates/news on the group apart from chatter. The chatter mostly consists of reactions and support from people across the globe (apart from expletives towards the killers). On Twitter, again its pretty consolidated and organized with a single hashtag created for the purpose (#JusticeForKeenanAndReuben).
If you compare the two movements, you will find that the Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandez ‘Zero Tolerance Campaign’ is generating greater success than the Anna Hazare Campaign. This in no way undermines the cause of the campaign but we learn that whenever you need to speak to the youth, you have to have a digital strategy in place. When more than 50% of the Indian audience is the youth, it would be advisable to gather their support for the cause. One more reason why the ‘Zero Tolerance Campaign’ was more successful online was due to the nature of the cause. It is a problem that the youth face everyday and it was a problem that they could relate to (not to discount the fact that bodily harm was done defending the cause). The youth are pretty skeptical about the Anna Hazare Campaign (and the current state of affairs are not making things better) apart from there being no clarity about the Lokpal bill.
I support both causes. I hope both causes have a fruitful ending. At the end of the day, every movement needs a hero and Anna Hazare, Keenan Santos and Reuben Fernandez stepped up to inspire us (just like the Chinese man who stood alone in Tiananmen Square). Let’s hope that we do not let our heros down and support them till the very end.
Carlton D’Silva is the chief creative director at Hungama Digital Media and has spent over 15 years in the digital space. He takes insult when you call the digital medium new media…15 years should be old enough! Find him on twitter @TheWordOfGawd.