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Grass Roots Gets Visual

Lionseye insights from AC Lion

As has been well documented this past year one of the more prolific beneficiaries of the Facebook phenomenon has been the world of non-profit fund raising and mission awareness. I can join a group in support of the cause of my choice and even solicit my friends to donate to such a cause. Many of us took advantage of our own little personal reach by posting supportive “buttons” for our recent favorite Presidential Candidates as well as Comic PM Political Commentators Steward and Colbert.
However I was struck by a recent awareness campaign’s viral dynamic and its personal impact. Last week I noticed a few of my friends had changed their profile pictures – no big deal. However what was odd was that more and more of my friends had been changing their photos to the SAME image. The picture a facial close up of a young male supported by a statement “I am waiting for Gilad”. It was an amature image – almost as simple a pic as you or I could take of our buddy or our brother. Just a simple pic – no airbrush – no carved muscular body – no facial expression suggesting we do something or buy something. I was a bit fuzzy, over exposed and not particularly attractive. I asked a few friends asking what the deal was with all of them changing to to the same profile pic. I was told the the simple face was that of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, one of the eight kidnapped Israeli soldiers who are still missing.
The group has attracted close to 47,000 members, who agreed to switch their status on Facebook from broadcasting their current mood or the details of their latest meal to a more passionate tone of how they felt about Shalit’s continued abduction.
I too joined and posted and within hours was getting inquiries about the pic and so too did the virality go. More and more the world of new media tries to define the right look and the right distribution strategy and metrics etc etc etc. For all I know this was a targeted campaign run by a tidy and aggressive interactive strategy shop who has just notched up another “win”. My guess is that this is not a formed strategy but a simple plea supported by a simple photo.
The only word that comes to me right now is “pure” – the face is pure as is the statement “waiting” for him is a silent but very powerful one. We are waiting for his return as we EXPECT it should happen. This simplicity of this campaign supported by a simple image moved me as well as did it display great velocity.
So I guess simple User Generated Content has significant power at times, no?