Susan G. Komen Foundation Learns About the Power of Social Media

Image: Komen + ClipArt

Social Media is a powerful tool to bring about change. It is a place where an individual can join together with like-minded people to make a difference.

At a time when so many are frustrated with politicians and the lack of change happening in Washington, it is encouraging to see people rising up collectively to force Congress to suspend an anti-piracy law decision and also to bring a large organization to it’s knees in the course of a month.

The most recent negative social media campaign, the Susan G. Komen Foundation fiasco, was waged after the organization made the decision to withhold funding of Planned Parenthood. Through massive social media efforts of countless individuals, Planned Parenthood raised $3,000,000 in three days and Komen reversed it’s decision after being unable to turn public opinion around. Nothing Komen did was able to slow down the negative campaign being waged against them on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.

In the last several days the top trending images on Twitter for @KomenForTheCure, the official Twitter account for Susan G. Komen included the image above and:

The Komen website was also recently hacked, with many on social media sites stating they are not in favor of individuals hacking sites except in this instance. Here’s what the hackers changed to the site:

Next to the marathon race ad it states “Help us run over poor women on the way to the bank.”

Facebook and Twitter was filled with angry comments regarding Komen; alternative organizations to support in lieu of Komen were suggested; and there were pleas for donations for Planned Parenthood. On Twitter, #NoKomen and negative comments with the hashtag #Komen were trending daily.

In a statement made yesterday, Susan G. Komen founder Nancy Brinker stated her organization would be reversing the decision in how they award grants, which would allow Planned Parenthood to continue to be eligible for current and future funding; Brinker was stating the decision had been reversed. Brinker, as delicately as possible, asked for the negative campaign to cease. In her statement she said:

“We urge everyone who has participated in this conversation across the country over the last few days to help us move past this issue. We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics – anyone’s politics.”

Brinker ended her statement with:

“…we sincerely hope that these changes will be welcomed by those who have expressed their concern.”

After the statement was released, a New York Times article stated “It [internet community] demonstrated again how social media can change the national conversation with head-snapping speed.”

The conversation continues on social media sites with many stating they “will never trust Komen” after this and “will never fund the organization again.”

One compelling tweet  yesterday might be foretelling of the future of the pink ribbon branding on so many products:

“So now we can all change our brand of yogurt without feeling guilty. #NoKomen”

Is it too late for Susan G. Komen?

The public will decide, probably making it known on Twitter and Facebook.

What do you think?

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Kelly is a writer, photographer, social media consultant, and teacher. She is all over the internet, including her blog, Naked Girl in a Dress.



  1. Well said, and while Komen reversed this decision, they did nothing about the political stance that took them here (ie firing people) and forever tarnished their brand. They need to do a lot more to fix that. I for one am not buying any pink-branded crapola anymore…

    • Kelly Sajonia says

      Thanks! I am not interested in promoting anything for them! I believe a lot of us are thinking that way after what has happened.

  2. You know, I got goosebumps reading this. I support PP and was disgusted with Komen’s decision to no longer fund them while they are under investigation, and the fact that they are changing their mind so quickly because of the backlash just goes to show that they didn’t NEED to stop funding in the first place. Amen for social media – finally, the little man has a voice in the United States.

    • Kelly Sajonia says

      It is a powerful lesson for large organizations that there is strength in numbers. And now with social media, individuals can quickly rally behind a cause and affect change. Smart leaders will recognize this as they make controversial decisions for their organizations; there could be significant backlash.


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