One of the reasons I’m so passionate about Social Media (SM) is that its power has me fascinated. Take a look at the Kony2012 debacle. When I first saw the #Kony2012 tag on Twitter, I asked what it was all about. Something didn’t sit well with me so I didn’t get involved, and in hindsight I’m glad. The ‘charity’ behind it is less than ethical in its financial dealings in my opinion, and the information outdated, but I still can’t deny that Jason Russell is one hell of a digital marketing whizz! Look at what he did to inform and educate the rest of the world simply with Youtube and Twitter! That is some powerful reach – around 100 million people viewed that video. Imagine if that was an ethical charity such as World Vision or The Red Cross – the implications are astounding. All thanks to SM and its viral nature.
Social Media For Social Good was one of the sessions I attended at the recent DPCON12 and it really made me sit back and think about this beast that is at the end of our fingertips. We, the citizens of the world are now becoming the powerful ones. According to Darren Rowse of Problogger, “Bloggers can achieve so much more than businesses and politicians because they’re in touch with real people”. This is so true. It’s not about a multi million dollar marketing campaign any more, it can be one person with a strong SM following, shedding light on a situation. “Don’t underestimate your abilities and power to make social change” said Darren. He is living proof. After building up a strong following over the years, Darren has used his influence to shed light on many social injustices around the world, from his own backyard to the depths of Africa. It made me want to stand up and cheer, it made me want to get out there and make a change immediately. However he also warned against burning yourself out: “Don’t wear yourself too thin. Decide how much you can give and stick to it. Think of your time commitment to a charity in the same way you would your annual monetary donation amount”. If you can afford $500 per year to charities in your family budget, you give that amount. It’s the same with time, think of how many hours you can spare in a week and stick to that so you don’t experience charity fatigue. It was a powerful session that had many in the room looking within to see where they too could affect change.
Another SM influencer who is using her powers for social good is Eden Riley of Edenland. She flew out of Melbourne last Saturday night to Niger to try to bring some media coverage to the food crisis that is currently gripping West Africa. She has gone with World Vision as an ambassador and is blogging, Tweeting, Facebooking and Youtube-ing her travels and the people she meets. She is telling us of her own uncertainty about what she’s seeing and the overwhelming feelings that grip her as she sees yet another child who is malnourished. She talks about the mothers who line up for hours at the clinics to get Plumpynut for their starving children. It’s heartbreaking as a mother to see this on a computer screen. I can’t imagine what she’s going through over there. What I do know is that she’s making a change. She is one woman, she is tweeting and shedding light on this famine and people are responding. I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t know about the severity of the famine in West Africa before last Friday – her journey brought it to the fore. Tweeters are talking about how they’ve signed up to sponsor children, or given a donation to the West Africa Food Crisis. I know she’s there with World vision, as part of a larger team, but she’s still one woman affecting change through social media. It’s mind-boggling to think that a mum from NSW can get on her computer in West Africa and make so many people feel. We’re feeling so strongly that we’re doing something about it. That is social media for social good. Right there.
The beauty of SM is that you don’t need to make a large statement like travelling over to the other side of the world, you can do it from your own lounge room. Take Naomi from Seven Cherubs. She’s a mum and a blogger who saw another mum in crisis. The blogging community was gripped with sadness earlier this year when one of its own, Lisa King, lost not only her son, but her husband within a 6 month period. It was devastating to even consider (I have goosebumps writing this). Lisa and Naomi have never met: they’re connected by social media, but they have a bond that goes beyond keyboards and wifi. After hearing of Lisa’s loss, Naomi set about to try to raise some funds to help her out. Money wouldn’t bring her husband or son back, but it would ease some of the financial burden so she could concentrate on her other three sons. Once again, SM went into meltdown raising $50,000 for Lisa with bloggers, face bookers and tweeters donating whatever they could to help out a woman they’ve never met. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of Lisa before this tragedy, but I felt a kinship as a mother and a blogger. Naomi used her SM influence to spread the word that we were rallying around this mother in crisis, and rally we did. I honestly don’t think even Naomi dreamed that such a large sum of money would be raised. Once again it’s SM at its finest.
So next time you feel disenchanted, think of a way you can use SM to affect change. It may be as simple as a tweet about a charity, or a status update about donating to a local shelter: every little thing makes a difference.
I read this great story recently and had to share: A man was walking along a beach and saw a boy standing amidst thousands of washed up starfish. One by one he picked them up and threw them back into the ocean. There were too many for him to save, but he kept at it. As the man approached, he said to the boy: “What are you doing, it’s not going to make a difference”. The boy picked up a starfish and threw it into the ocean and said: “Just made a difference to that one”.
Never think that you can’t make a change. You can. Yes you.
Linking up with The Organised Housewife