Social Media For Social Good

When I first heard about the 2010 Mashable & 92Y Social Good Summit, I was a bit perplexed and uncertain as to what was meant by “Social Good.” For weeks leading up to the event, social media enthusiasts twittered and blogged about the Summit. Being a social media enthusiast myself, the hype piqued my interest. I quickly rearranged my schedule so that I could participate. I must say, what I learned that day from social media experts from around the world, forever changed my outlook on social media.

Just in case you’re asking yourself the question – What is social good? According to experts, social good essentially means using social media to help address some of the world’s challenges such as poverty, world hunger, homelessness and other global issues. The 2010 World Hunger and Poverty Facts statistics state that “as of 2008, there were an estimated 1,345 million poor people in developing countries who live on $1.25 a day or less.”

Nielson published statistics this year that states “the world now spends over 110 billion minutes on social networking and blog sites.” Imagine what would happen if the 500 million users currently on Facebook or the 190 million users on Twitter dedicated a percentage of their tweets and status updates towards a cause that would address at least one of the world’s challenges. This is not impossible and using social networking sites for social good can be done in 140 characters or less. A simple status update has the potential to reach thousands and can bring awareness to your favorite cause in a matter of seconds.

Social Media for Social Good A great example of social media for social good is that of a woman, Jenni Ware, unable to locate her wallet to pay for groceries at Trader Joes, received a gift of kindness from a fellow shopper.  This complete stranger, Carolee Hazard offered to pay her entire $207 grocery bill; which Ware accepted. In return, Ware mailed Hazard a check for $300, which repaid the debt, as well as an additional $93 tip. Hazard matched the $93 with money of her own and turned to the popular social networking site, Facebook to ask her friends where to donate $186. Her friends quickly suggested charity. Inspired by the story, Hazard’s Facebook friends immediately started donating $93 of their own. Hence, the ‘93 Dollar Club was born and more than $100,000 has been raised by this simple act of social good.

As users of social media, “we can define what our world will be like.” Technology is growing daily and has impacted the way we communicate with others. With the knowledge shared at this year’s summit, experts like Howard Buffet explained that the role of social media “is not about technology, it’s about people.” There are times when we become so engrossed in gaining the most friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter, and the hope of reaching the right Human Resource professional on LinkedIn, that we lose sight of humanity. Let’s use social media for “something greater than ourselves, let us preserve humanity and use social media for social good.”

How You Can Help There are resources available to get you started with your social good efforts. Jumo, founded by Chris Hughes is a website that makes it easy to find and follow and causes that you support. Award winning actor, Ed Norton’s website Crowdrise helps you become an effective fundraiser. This fun and easy to use site is the social networking of fundraising. The information I gathered from this summit  encouraged me to identify my own Millennium Development Goal (MDG). An MDG is a global and local goal that suits a specific need that provides structure for an international community to work towards a common goal. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, all we have to do is find a MDG and become active.

The aforementioned resources are just suggestions. You may have your own cause or ideas for social good. The purpose of this summit was to bring awareness to the world’s challenges and how we can use social media for social good. The potential we have to bring awareness to the world’s issues, through social networking is endless. I present the question, how will you use social media for social good?