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From Valentine’s Day to your favourite celebs: social media and charities are listening to you

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Published on 12 February 2019

Social media is listening to you
Social media is listening to you

Your Facebook timeline is a powerful tool.

Tapping into all your likes, it provides a bespoke, one-feed-fits-all adverting board, targeting you individually.

And what is becoming increasingly apparent, according to one University of Sunderland academic, is how charities are now feeding into your feed – eating up your information in a bid to urge you to donate.

Dr Janet Ward, Reader in Marketing, Strategy and Innovation at the University, said: “Are you suddenly growing weary of the increasing number of Valentine’s Day offers dropping into your email box or social media platform?

“This week it would seem everything from flowers, to meals out, and even slightly more outlandish offers are appearing.

“Well in amongst these offers you will find an increasing number of charities with Valentine themed promotions. Everything from urging you to send an ecard from The Rainbow Trust to support their work to buying a bunch of Rainbow Roses to help LGBT youth.”

Charities it would seem, just like everyone else, are realising the power of tapping into your social media feed. And they are employing an army of weapons to infiltrate it too – none more powerful than the ‘celebrity’.

Dr Ward, who is also Programme Director for MA Marketing, said: “Have you noticed BAFTA award winner Olivia Coleman fronting a campaign for UNICEF in your Facebook feed recently?

“Choosing celebrities to front charity campaigns can be tricky; you risk alienating potential customers just as much as attracting them.

“To overcome this some companies are opting to use multiple celebs in their campaigns. An excellent example is the recent British Airways centenary advertisement featuring the likes of actors Gary Oldman and Riz Ahmed; sporting stars Anthony Joshua, Ellie Simmonds, Nicola Adams, Chris Robshaw, Harriet Millar-Mills and Anthony Watson; and, again, Olivia Colman.”

So, how do companies know which celebrities are going to be a turn-on – and those who will be a turn-off?

Dr Ward said: “Well, perhaps you have mentioned Olivia Coleman by name or discussed seeing her film The Favourite recently or discussed TV drama Broadchurch with your Facebook friends?

“Key words or liking related posts make you and me a very easy target. If you have already ‘liked’ something that celebrity has been involved with, then it would seem you’re much more likely to support a charitable venture they are associated with.

“Olivia Colman has been a High Profile Support for UNICEF since 2015 along with others including Lewis Hamiltion. There are also UNICEF UK ambassadors including Sir Chris Hoy and Sir Andy Murray and Goodwill ambassadors such as David Beckham. So, you may well find any one of these in your Facebook feed depending on your likes and posts.”