Otter has 1,000 Facebook friends – and it isn’t even beloved Muppet Emmit Otter

Last week I was talking with a colleague about Facebook campaigns- or, more accurately, about campaign applications for Facebook. We talked about how easy it seems to now be to gain hundreds – if not thousands – of people for a cause, but how difficult it is to turn those people into activists. Today I read about a sea otter whose Facebook fan page has 1,000 follower.

Now, to be fair the otter in question – who goes by the name “Olive” – was a bit of a charity case: she was in rehab after wading through a nasty patch of oil, so many of her followers wanted updates on her treatment and re-release into the wild. However, it begs the ever-present question on social network sensations: now what? Will the folks behind the Facebook site use it as a platform to further inform Olive’s followers on the dangers sea animals face from pollutants? Will it be used to raise money for clean-up efforts? Without a good strategy, te goodwill Olive promoted may not go as far as it could.

It reminds me of a story I heard once about a 1972 campaign event for Richard Nixon, who was seeking re-election in a campaign that would, eventually, mean the end of his Presidency. Eager to show that young people supported the President, buses were chartered and high-profile entertainment talent was paid to perform. It was a giant event that cost a lot of money, but no one thought to collect the contact information of the hundreds of participants – participants who, though the outcome of the Presidential contest was nearly certain, could have helped with many Congressional or other down-ballot races.

It’s relatively easy to pack a concert hall with people or amass thousands of Facebook friends with the right amount of resources. But those resources will be wasted if the next step – the answer to the question, “Then What?” – is not fully thought out.

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