Thursday, August 11, 2016

Reach Out and Touch Someone (Promoted)

It was a thing back in the heyday of Tumblr for people to ask for money to fund their health issues. Treating cancer, getting an abortion... it could be anything. But of course that was a free medium, and other Tumblr users were on their own when it came to whether or not they reblogged it.

Today I saw this in my Twitter feed:

Yes, that is a promoted tweet asking for money for someone's (possibly real, possibly not) health care need. This guy, Robert Calman, is paying Twitter in hope that people will put cash into his gofundme account.

It sounds like the cost of that is $.50 to $2.00 per interaction (which means, he only pays if Twitter users click on his link, not just if they are shown his promoted tweet). So far he's raised $2,820 of his $15,000 goal. He's in Suwanee, Georgia.

I don't have a problem with people setting up a gofundme account for something like this, of course, but I think it's more typical for people who do to circulate the link within their existing network of friends and relatives, maybe reaching out to friends of friends. The idea of promoting it to a broader audience through Twitter strikes me as transgressive and possibly financially counterproductive, if it's an authentic ask.

It's a bit like those postage-paid envelopes, which cost 7 or 8 cents more than the price of a stamp to the recipient, plus an annual permit fee. Anyone else remember the "mail a brick to the Moral Majority" campaign from the 1980s? Every time someone clicks this guy's promoted tweet—or even types in the full URL shown there, ending with ?pc=tw—it costs him money. (I confess I recently mailed a business reply envelope back to the Trump campaign stuffed full of paper but no donation.) It's a risk that people will keep clicking that link over and over again. It wouldn't take too many reloads to cost Mr. Calman a pile of money.

And what if it's a made-up cause in the first place? There's no way to tell, of course. I'm sure there are people sitting around trying to craft the perfect ask, combined with the perfect heart-wrenching photo. Mr. Calman may not be one of them, but I'm sure they're out there.

Caveat emptor, as always.

1 comment:

Gina said...

This is incredible. I've been working on setting up a crowdsource funding page to raise money to pay off my publishing production debt I incurred when I published my novel myself. It would not occur to me to PROMOTE that page the way I'd promote my novel. Wow. It's understood that each of the crowdsource funding websites have their own way of getting the word out about the pages on the site whether it's to highlight new projects on the home page or send e-mails to members. I think Mr. Calman got sold a bill of goods when he signed up to promote his page on Twitter!