Can you use social media for good? Can it be used to help and support people? Can it be used for more than business promotions and uploading selfies?
Yes, it certainly can.
Social media can be used for any number of good causes:
· Fight starvation and homelessness.
·Provide guidance to those struggling with addiction and recovery.
· End bullying in schools and domestic violence in homes.
· Protest against fracking or other environmental causes.
· Speak out against sexism, racism, or job or housing discrimination.
Ineffective Use of Social Media
Social media has frequently been used to bring attention to a good cause, but for the most part it has been ineffective. It has been ineffective because random posts by concerned individuals quickly get buried under an avalanche of new posts on other themes.
Sometimes, social media posts do go viral, creating a movement, but these ebb and flow. Ultimately, once the outrage has passed, people move on to discuss new themes, and the cause begins to slip out of awareness and public concern.
Social Media Management
The only way social media can be effective in improving society is through using the same methods that businesses use—social media management.
Businesses have used effective social media campaigns to raise awareness of their product, build a brand, drive traffic to their websites, sell more of their products and create flourishing communities.
These work to create massive results because they are not random outbursts of zeal, but sustained, strategic initiatives.
Why Use Social Media?
Traditionally, efforts to do good have usually come about through fund raising events, community meetings, formation of local chapters, and using television, radio, and print advertising. Online efforts have been modest—usually a website to describe the work and to collect donations or emailing ezines to subscribers.
While there is nothing wrong with these methods, it would be easy to dramatically improve results through adding more social media to their efforts.
According to Futures of Palm Beach treatment center, a growing number of Americans are beginning to use social media: “As of 2014, 74 percent of US adults who use the Internet participate in one or more social networking sites. Out of this group, 89 percent of young adults age 18-29 and 82 percent of adults age 30-49 use social networking.”
If social media represents a growing medium that could rapidly bring about more awareness, raise funds, and even promote positive social action, how can it be used by a charitable organization or activist group to create positive change locally and even globally?
How to Use Social Media to Do Good
Here is a five-step plan that corporations use to establish their presence online and that will work equally well to do good on social media:
Step 1: Set Clear Goals and Make Definite Plans
As the saying goes, “If you don’t know where you are going, then any road will take you there.” Only when there are goals and plans, can effective action occur.
In order to set a clear goal, decide what you hope to achieve, define short-term goals and long-term goals, and narrow down a broad social cause to something specific and actionable.
Step 2: Assemble Your Team
One reason corporations are so successful at social media marketing is that a number of people work on a project. Similarly, you need a team of people to draw attention to a social cause.
If you already have an organization, then begin to sift through your staff to find suitable candidates. If you want to start an organization, then decide who you will ask to join you.
Look for people who enjoy technology rather than simply people with good hearts but almost now technical aptitude; look for people who are already good at posting on Facebook, creating hashtags on Twitter, and writing blog posts; and look for people who are comfortable with public speaking and can be your spokesperson on video-sharing websites like YouTube.
Step 3: Use Branding
Branding consists of a number of elements ranging from colors to logos and from images to mission statements. Branding works because it creates an identity and people can get behind it. Without a brand, it’s difficult to recognize who is behind a message or promotion. So borrow branding elements from the corporate world to use for your social media organizational work.
Step 4: Make Your Mess Your Message
The reason why people get behind something is because there is a good story behind it. These stories have to be true and verifiable to be effective. Ideally, these are personal stories from people who have experienced extreme loss or hardship and now have become spokespeople against that type of injustice happening to other people. Their lives were a mess, but they have now made that mess into a message. A woman who has experienced domestic abuse, for instance, will have a much stronger impact than a well-intentioned man with the same message.
Step 5: Deploy Content Creation
Finally, you must continually generate content. This can be in the form of regular blog posts that are shared on social media, YouTube channels, and other ways to develop consistent content. The content is to describe your message in a hundred different ways.
Social media will be effective in creating action for a good cause if it uses many of the same techniques that have proven effective for businesses. Interests in social causes tend to be short-lived because there is insufficient organization behind getting the message out consistently.