Linn’s Stamp News reports that the US Postal Service plans a slightly gimmicky unveiling for its stamp honoring the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. Instead of releasing the image well in advance, as it used to do, the USPS will reveal the design “pixel by pixel” on its Facebook page. Each time a Facebook member “participates” by allowing their profile photo to be added to a “virtual March on Washington Stamp Mosaic” another pixel of the stamp design will be revealed. The virtual “unveiling” is set to begin next week, and conclude with the official ceremony marking the First Day of Issue in Washington on August 23. Linn’s says that a portion of the artwork (presumably more than just one pixel?!) will be withheld until the ceremony.
The USPS has used Facebook to promote stamps for a couple of years now, starting in 2011 with a staggered “preview” of the 2012 stamp program. The service’s embrace of Facebook and social media as a marketing tool reflected an abrupt turn-around from its earlier dismissive attitude. That attitude was perhaps best expressed in a 2010 Deliver magazine article which poked fun at social media as “the cool new thing”, not worth investing time and money in.
Whatever the merits of Facebook as a tool to boost sales, the use of a gimmick to promote a stamp commemorating as momentous an occasion as the March on Washington risks coming across as tacky- and it hardly seems likely to boost stamp sales.
All of which may explain why the USPS is apparently looking to hire a social media specialist!