Facebook’s Organ Donor Initiative-One Week Later

FB organ Donor Graphic

So … did it work?

We here at Pixels & Pills were tremendously excited by last week’s announcement that Facebook was making a major push to help the cause of organ donation in the US and the UK. It’s the kind of thing that social networks can do incredibly well and it can have a major impact on the causes they choose to support. And FB backed up the new initiative with a major media push. So what’s the impact one week later?

THE POSITIVE: Over 6000 people registered through Facebook and donations in California (Facebook’s home state) increased by over 5000%.

THE NEGATIVE: With over 526 million users worldwide, those 6000 people represent a drop in the bucket. Granted the initiative is only taking place in the US and the UK. But if we conservatively estimate that those two countries represent 100 mm of Facebook’s registered users, you still get a response rate of less than .01%.

While it’s still too early to tell what the long term impact of the program will be we have to confess to disappointment at those numbers. We’re sure DONATE LIFE (Facebook’s partner in the initiative) is more than happy to see this spike in their traffic. But given the huge push that Facebook put behind this announcement (a full court media press by it’s two most prominent representatives) and the valuable screen real estate that it devoted to the issue, we’re really surprised that the figures aren’t higher.

What’s holding people back from participating? We think this is one of those cases where Facebook needs to learn from some of it’s online competitors. Because the Facebook platform is a closed environment, FB developers are used to doing things their way. And their way can be extremely complicated (as anyone who has tried to post to Facebook from another site or get a business validated on Facebook Places can tell you). The current organ donor signup process takes you out of the Facebook platform and on to individual state organ donor registries where users need to fill out a fairly lengthy form. Definitely not as easy as ticking the box on your driver’s licence application. Sites like Zappos and Amazon understand that this kind of friction can easily lead to abandonment. And while organ donation is not a purchase decision much of the same type of thinking goes in to the process.

We believe that Facebook needs to take more of a “guided sale” approach to the process, helping people understand how to quickly and easily fill out th necessary information and also addressing the numerous privacy concerns that have been raised by critics of the program. With an enhanced user experience, the program could become more popular and really expand on the good work they’ve started.

We would love to see this kind of behavior become a part of people’s everyday actions online. Want to sign up for a Facebook account? Why not include the organ donation option as part of the registration process? Similarly, we think it would be great if this was also expanded to other worthy causes like the bone marrow registry.

Facebook, Google and their digital colleagues wield enormously powerful tools for social change. We’re excited to see at least one company using those tools in a positive manner. And as a community, we believe Pharma should support these types of initiatives and help companies find a way to make them more successful. Let’s reach out to the major social media players and show them how we can all work together to improve quality of life for our users.

What would you do to help Facebook make this program work better?

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One Response to Facebook’s Organ Donor Initiative-One Week Later

  1. Pingback: Facebooks Organ Donor Project: Aftermath « ScienceRoll