Enamored with Facebook from the first day I joined it nearly a year ago; this social networking tool has definitely carved out a special place in my life. And why shouldn’t it? I use it to keep in touch with friends and family, to network with people, to post information on upcoming events, to keep up with news via posts from people that I am linked to, etc. And now with Facebook breaking the 200 million mark of online users, which would make it the 5th largest country in the world (if it were a country), its hard not to be swept into the “Facebook Madness”.
Apart from being able to see pictures of my friends on vacation or watching a video stream of the American Idol contestants on a friend’s wall, Facebook has also proven to be a very successful platform for businesses, organizations, and social advocacy groups who hope to promote their brand and/or message. Many of the particulars which companies/organizations find to be enticing when using Facebook include the ability for it to “reach”, the fact that it enables the “brand”/ “message” to interact directly with their fan base/supporters, that fact that it is personal, and of course, the fact that it is totally free.
So I asked myself the question, “Nadia, how can you use Facebook to help shed some light on an ethnic group who finds themselves subjected to negative stereotyping in this day and age”? Who am I talking about? ME ! One of the 3.5 million Arab-Americans living in the United States today. As I searched and scanned many of the existing “Arab American” groups currently on Facebook , I couldn’t find a single group where someone who wasn’t Arab-American might want to join. O.k., let me be a little bit more blunt, joining a group where the only thing available to the members is a link to Al Jazeera and a discussion board about “You know you are an Arab when”, is REALLY not fun, even for an Arab-American. Therefore, with Facebook being the “networking monster” that it is, it would be a real shame not to utilize it to address the stereotypes plaguing the Arab-American community living here in the United States.
So I’ve come up with a creative way to combat stereotypes about Arab Americans that includes using Facebook as the social networking platform in which the campaign will be conducted on. The campaign will be supported by and organized through the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) on behalf of Arab-Americans. The page, which will be titled, “I am Arab, I am American”, will be an interactive forum where through the implementation of a game and contest, visitors will not only learn about Arab-Americans and their culture but will also be rewarded with prizes for their participation. In the hopes of driving visitors to the page and building a large following, the “I am Arab, I am American” page on Facebook will be linked to other companies whose CEO’s/founders are Arab-American. For example, networking with other platforms might include linking to Farouk Systems, Joseph Abboud, Del Monte Produce, and HSBC Bank. Furthermore, by creating a contest that includes participation, members of the page not only get an opportunity to learn about Arab-Americans, but also have fun during the process and when doing so, become enticed to join because of prizes and coupons presented to them by partnering sites.
O.K., so you havn’t gotten to the best part of the contest yet! Every time members of the page complete the interactive game on Facebook, their name will be put into a drawing for the grand prize, an opportunity to spend an entire week in Hollywood with the Arab-American of their choice: Tony Shalhoub (of The Monk) or Paula Abdul (from American Idol). If neither of those Arab-American personalities sound appealing to them, they will be afforded the opportunity to opt out of “Hollywood Week” and accept the alternative prize, two first class round trip tickets on Emirates Air to any destination in the world (your choice). The only catch is they have to fly by December 31, 2009.
Quick question, which late Arab-American was a comedian and the founder of St. Jude’s Children’s Research hospital? A right answer to that question on the Arab-American Facebook challenge might get you a $5.00 coupon for free Del Monte pineapples. Now who doesn’t like “free” pineapples?! Arab-American or not.