If you ask people what they think about Social Media, you will get mixed results. While some people think its merely a useless, time-wasting, World destroying distraction, others love it. Social Media is like anything else – it is what you make it. Sure, you can waste hours a day Tweeting pointless thoughts or watching stupid videos on YouTube – or you can use it for good. Now when I say good, I’m not talking about reconnecting with old friends or sharing useful information. While that stuff is productive and “good” in a sense, the “good” stuff that I’m talking about is Social Good.

Last Thursday, Mashable teamed up with (RED) to create Social Good Day with the goal of finding a way to use Social Media to raise awareness and find solutions to the World’s most pressing Social issues. The team used a variety of Social Media platforms to achieve their goal. They prompted people to Tweet possible solutions using the hashtag #SocialGood. They also encouraged their supporters to write a blog post, share ideas on Facebook and post a video on YouTube. Social Good Day is only one of many initiatives that aim at using Social Media to make the world a better place.

Take a second and think about today’s technologies – Social Media, Web 2.0, Smart Phones… it’s truly incredible. These tools have allowed us to connect with more people, and accomplish more. Think about how fast information travels. How many people see an idea, change it to make it better, and then pass it along?

“Ideas that spread through groups of people are far more powerful than ideas delivered at an individual.” – Seth Godin

How did you first hear about the Earthquake in Haiti? I’m guessing it wasn’t the newspaper. I found out on Twitter. The news of this tragic event traveled around the World in minutes. And, in turn, relief and donations were sent within hours. Social Media has not only informed us of World events at a faster rate, but it has also made it easier and quicker for us to help. 20 years ago, you might read about it in the paper, or hear it on the radio. And then you could mail in donations. Today, the news was everywhere within seconds and donating was as easy as sending a text message from your mobile device, or clicking a link on Facebook. Absolutely incredible.

Another amazing aspect of Social Media that is beneficial to charities is that it’s free. I use the term “free” loosely, but compared to other means of advertising, Social Media basically is. 93% of major charities use Facebook, 87% are on Twitter and 65% blog. Charities and non-profits continue to be superior to many large corporations with their use, management and monitoring of Social Media.

Social Media will not save the world – people will save the world. Social Media is simply an amazing tool that connects people, resources and ideas.

In closing, here’s a thought. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Terry Fox. I’m not trying to discount anything he accomplished, because what he did was absolutely incredible and courageous. He is a true Canadian hero. But take a second and think about this. What if Terry Fox had access to a cell phone from which he could have Tweeted his Marathon of Hope? What if he had the ability set up a Facebook Page to promote his cause? What if he could have checked into locations across Canada using Foursquare, Gowalla or Facebook Places? And what if he had the option of documenting his journey on YouTube? Imagine the possibilities.

What are you thoughts about using Social Media for Social Good?

Tagged with:  
  • Christopher Healy

    Excellent thoughts, and sad to imagine what would have happened if Terry Fox has the power of the Social Media in his day. Social Media are becoming an extension of the life and work styles of millions of people- so the potential for doing “good” is enormous. On the other hand, the competition for our limited time and resources can be exhausted when we get overwhelmed with social media requests or information.

    One way or the other, new school or old, the old adage rings true: better to give than receive.

    Thanks for the thoughtful and well-written article.

    • Jason

      Great points Chris. It will be interesting to see how people allocate their time as it becomes more scarce and valuable. But as you said, the opportunity for “good” is absolutely enormous, and incredible. It is almost overwhelming to think about the possibilities!

  • Stephen McGill

    As a volunteer board member for a few charities I really enjoyed the article and found it quite thought provoking. So many hard working people in not for profits are doing wonderful work. Social media could be a very powerful tool for them but I think that many of them don’t know where to start.

    • Jason

      Thanks Steve! Social Media has truly emerged as an amazing tool for non-profits to gain exposure and help their causes due to its extensive reach and affordability. As you said, it is quite powerful but people’s inexperience with the tools tend to hinder them. To have an effective impact with Social Media, you really need to know your stuff. Have the charities that you’ve worked with embraced Social Media at all?

  • sarah-michelle

    This article is so inspiring. Social media in a way is handicapping us the way playstation and other game devices have done. Unable to actually go outside and play hockey people play NHL11. And rather than connecting with real people and having meaningful discussions people are turning to live gaming as a means for a ‘social life’. In the same sense, we get caught up and so lost in our day to day status updates and profile ‘creeping’ but really what are we accomplishing with this waste of time? If everyone took a few moments in their daily tweeting or facebooking to try to inspire others with new ideas and thoughts about how we can all ‘be the change’ or look into new things going on in the world then social media would be used to create a wave of change around the world. I think this article was great in sending out that challenge to people. thanks!

    • Jason

      Thanks for you insight Sarah-Michelle! In your work with charities and time spent in Haiti did you, or see examples of people, leveraging Social Media for the greater good?