Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Planned Parenthood vs. Susan G. Komen

Social Media and the Planned Parenthood/Susan G. Komen for the Cure Controversy 
*Note - This is a group posting by: Kazybek Abraliev, Matthew Reynolds, Vikas Sheel, Ateesh Singh, and Stephanie Valdes

Planned Parenthood, once again, launched another successful campaign using social media. The campaign was so successful that Susan G. Komen had to reverse their decision, to withdraw the grants provided to Planned Parenthood, within four days of the decision going public. 

The case has numerous lessons, both in terms of important factors and strategies which can lead a social media campaign to succeed (or fail). Both organizations in this case have their own missions on women’s health, but each of them uses different approaches and strategies to achieve its mission and constituency. 

The following are the analyses of the most important lessons learned that are applicable to strategic management and social media communication: 

Be Prepared! In this digital age, one cannot afford to ignore social media. Planned Parenthood used social media platforms to build a large and loyal base of active supporters as well as using regular “calls for action”. At the same time, it’s perhaps not advisable to jump in if one is not prepared in terms of in-house capacity for content creation, dissemination, management, and monitoring.

Consistency is Key. Your External Communication Policy is the vehicle by which you interact with all groups outside of your organization. Social media is a powerful set of tools that allows you to engage your public stakeholders. Your organization’s mission is most important—you cannot bow to external pressures without compromising your mission.

Define the Target and Drive the Agenda. Planned Parenthood took the initiative and used social media proactively in order to set the agenda of debate and engage followers in the issue at hand. Susan G. Komen, on the other hand, reacted and was always on the defensive which led to them being involved in the very controversy they wanted to avoid. 

Build Alliances. Use knowledge (influencer) hubs to spread your message on social media networks in order to amplify your message, but make sure to match your mission with those of the amplifiers.

Communication Space. Active surveillance of the content posted, new content being created by users, and feedback thereon is essential to not only driving the agenda of the debate, but also to empower followers. The communication must at least be bidirectional and efforts should be made to facilitate multilateral exchange of ideas.

Evasive Maneuvers Will Boomerang. Deleting content and\or disabling comments in the public domain are actions that not only alienate supporters, but also leads to loss in credibility.

Conclusions. After completing an analyses of the information presented in the case it seems that follower engagement is the key to promoting trust which in turn can lead to followers taking a higher stance on the issues they want to see resolved. Social media has become a portal for people to communicate about issues all over the world, so making sure content is fresh and accessible can bring back the best results. Also, allowing opportunities for followers to voice their opinions and give feedback, along with building relationships with others like them, can foster a sense of community.

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