I was traveling this weekend with minimal access to the internet so my time on Facebook was limited — yet each time I scanned my News Feed on my iPhone the most consistent message that popped up was “Stand with Planned Parenthood.” Friday the House of Representatives voted to cut Planned Parenthood’s federal funding in their government spending bill. Supporters of the organization have taken to the internet to garner signatures for an open letter to Congress, to urge Senate to overturn the cut and to bring attention to their plight.
The online campaign is asking people to sign an open letter to the representatives who voted to cut funding, largely through Facebook. I believe that Facebook was the best medium for this effort because Planned Parenthood already had a large community on the platform, with nearly 120,000 fans. This is in addition to the numerous regional Planned Parenthood divisions with roughly one thousand fans each. Planned Parenthood was able to tap into these already established communities and urge them to support their open letter campaign. The sharing nature of Facebook also let fans post that link on their own walls with the click of a button, further spreading the “Stand with Planned Parenthood” message. In fact, it has been shared more than 369,000 times! (The amount increased to that by more than 12,000 in the 30 minutes since I last checked!)
Leading up to the House decision Planned Parenthood carried out an aggressive email campaign which asked for “emergency contributions.” The email messages were worded with vigor and a sense of urgency to elicit action from its readers. One of the sections that resonated the most to me was in an email titled, “Ten days to decide the future of PLanned Parenthood.” The message read, “And at the end of those 10 days, every single one of us who cares so deeply about the millions of women, men, and teens Planned Parenthood health centers serve will ask ourselves, “Did I do everything I could to protect this irreplaceable organization from these devastating attacks?” I am determined to say yes. Absolutely, unequivocally YES. I’m counting on you to agree — so, if you can, please help by making an emergency contribution to Planned Parenthood Federation of America today.”
This two pronged approach — Facebook and email — allows Planned Parenthood to reach different audiences with different messages. The email campaign seems to be more focused on donations while the Facebook effort is signatures and support. I think these may be because someone who has signed up for emails updates probably already has an invested interest in the organization and may be more likely to contribute funds. Since Facebook is a social, sharing platform its purpose seems to be spreading the message and garnering supporters more than asking for money. This is the best route because, as we’ve discussed recently, you need to be cognizant of what you are asking of someone and in what manner. Personally, I am less receptive to requests for donations on Facebook. Yet, a think coupling the tools is best — hopefully reaching their audience with both emails and a Facebook presence. This would hopefully result in publicity and donations to support overturning the bill.
Time will only tell the effect this online effort will have when the bill reaches the Senate.