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On the #nomakeupselfie Facebook campaign

Jon Randles, Head of Business Development at MOSH, New Zealand’s top social media agency comments on the #nomakeupselfie Facebook campaign.

Last week my Facebook feed started to get clogged up with fetching pictures of friends with no make up on. The campaign had started with #beatcancer under each picture and encouragement for others to follow suit and raise awareness. Cancer Research UK quickly capitalised on the meme and advertised their text to donate phone number. 8m was raised in six days, meaning a number of clinical trials could go ahead which had previously been cancelled due to lack of funds. I have read a number of articles berating the narcissism of women and the sexism inherent in believing it’s brave to post a picture of yourself with no make up. I don’t think Cancer Research UK will be joining in the debate, they’ll be far too busy putting the sudden windfall to excellent use, looking for a cure to a disease which affects everyone, directly or indirectly.

Social media campaigns are an excellent way of raising money and awareness of lesser known issues. Although Cancer does not need its awareness raised, it does need huge amounts of cash for the extensive research and testing needed to steer towards finding a cure. To that end, the #nomakeupselfie meme has been staggeringly successful. Not all campaigns have raising money as their goal. In response to the worryingly increasing youth lesbian and gay suicide rate as a result of bullying at school, author Dan Savage produced a video on YouTube with his partner to inspire hope for young people called ‘It Gets Better.’ This spawned thousands of copies, some of which were made by world leaders and prominent public figures. The combined views are over 50 million.

The reach of this simple style of communication has been phenomenal, particularly when you consider the low cost of producing a video with a smart phone and uploading to YouTube.

Not all selfies or encouragement on You Tube leave the poster with warm fuzzies. Consider Ashley Keast, 25, who burgled a house in Rotherham, UK last week. He made off with an Audi, jewellery and electrical items worth approximately $40,000. Amongst his loot was a SIM card which he used in his phone, took a selfie and sent it to his friends on WhatsApp. Unfortunately the photo also went to his victim’s list of contacts and he was subsequently jailed for 2 years.

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