Facebook users rally against controversial Rolling Stone cover

On Wednesday, July 17, Rolling Stone magazine revealed that the Boston Marathon bomber suspect was the cover choice for their latest magazine issue. Shortly after, Facebook community outrage violently expressed itself via the page “Boycott Rolling Stone Magazine for their latest cover” — a Facebook page that gained more than 100 thousand likes in less than 24 hours.

That equates to 4,168 likes per hour, which equals 69 likes per minute: a like every 6/7th of a second. The premise of the fanpage is simple, as stated in its about section: “Rolling Stone announced its new cover today, featuring the Boston Bomber. This is unacceptable and a slap in the face for those he killed and maimed.”

Such rapid fan page growth is possible due to the structure of Facebook sharing. Whenever a Facebook user likes a page, that like can show up in that individual’s feed, allowing his or her network to see it as well. In addition, many media outlets and Facebook users are including the hashtag “#Boycott” and “#RollingStone,” which encourages viral sharing via Facebook’s Graph Search. This results in more viewers and more participants becoming polarized to one side or the other.

Grass roots campaigns within Facebook are nothing new. In May 2013, a successful protest by Women, Action and the Media convinced advertisers to pull their ads in protest of “rape joke” pages that proliferated on Facebook.

How this public outcry will affect Rolling Stone magazine, their advertisers and community remains to be seen. Smart businesses, however, will watch this situation unfold and learn from the reactions; once a controversial passion has been ignited on Facebook to this extent it becomes virtually unstoppable.

But here is the powerful takeaway: The Facebook community can make or break a brand’s appeal; businesses want to ensure their social media interactions increase their marketshare in today’s competitive economy.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this develops … how about you?

Barbara Ling is a 17-plus year veteran marketing entrepreneur, currently specializing in teaching others how to build a viral fanbase/community online using Facebook, Pinterest, blogging, coffee (lots of coffee, or maybe tea if that’s your preference) and more! See her Google Profile here!

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