This post was written by our newest MarketMeSuite intern @trishbaden. Trish has a very unique experience with the power of Social Media for social good, so we asked her to share her story and her findings.
Social Media. We all use it, some of are positively addicted to it (me included!). But isn't it great when something that we love to use can be used for tremendous good?
Social Good Is Viral
As I sat there writing my blog post about my troubles with Lyme Disease a couple of weeks ago, I wondered why social media was the first place I thought to go to spread information, plan, and coordinate an effort to petition the Wisconsin Board of Medicine. "I suppose all of my friends are there: it'll be a central place to communicate," I thought to myself. Being part of Generation Y-- technology and particularly Social Media have become a part of who we are and how we identify ourselves in virtual reality. We grew up with the Internet and we are the first generation to do so.
Demonstrations, protests, petitions, and town hall's are all going online.
Think of the use of Social Media for Social Causes as Woodstock and musical festivals were to Generation X. They protested within the lyrics of their music and concert attendance- arts and writings. Generation Y does the same but with technological spin. Protests are held and/or organized virally through Facebook events and group invites-- exposes through blogs, tweets, and Facebook statuses, all creating an, "internet culture" which marinates around a certain issue. Before I knew it, my post reading, "Save my Doctor, Save me!" had 10 likes and was reposted 17 times on facebook. And signatures were being added to the petition I promoted. Amongst my group of "friends," my petition had gone what we coin as, "viral." With the click of the refresh tab, my blog had 2,000 views and the petition hit 1,600 signatures. Social Media literally catapulted my effort social change forward.
What other Social Media channels are people using for their messages?
After reading an article on Social Media Today, I saw there were tons of tools out there to help spread my own Social Petition and other Social Revolutions, like the ones happening in Egypt and on Occupy Wall Street. Groups of people within the same culture are coming together by way Social Media and creating events, groups pages, publishing statuses that all take part in a global conversation- or "trend." These trends, communicated by Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn, are epicenters breeding change. Essentially, Generation Y (and a heck of a lot of other people) are using it as a tool for communication, planning, and strengthening their message. As part of the world population, a now whopping 7 billion people, we are fish in a vast stretch of ocean. With this in mind, social change can become quite difficult because you're message is competing in a shared, community space with varying amounts of opposition. Getting your message across to the Social Media "public" and getting the masses to agree with your vantage point enough to act is tough.
The most important keys to remember about the virality of your message is making sure it's seen by the right group, in the right place, at the right time. Whether it's the time of day-or the period of time in history, placing your Social Media activity within your cultural stream taking into account the time of day and the period of time can directly impact the outcome of your campaign or petition. For example, Healthcare Reform is a hot issue about which everyone is talking. People are polarized between agreeing and disagreeing-seemingly causing strong opinions on both sides. When I launched my "Lyme Disease Petition" and blog onto the world, people reacted online and felt compelled enough to pass it along by way of their own Social Media. They were talking about it, arguing it, defending it--- and most importantly, sharing it. Choosing the most popular Social Media Channels, Twitter, Facebook, and BlogSpot, did play a huge part in helping the message along. Additionally, I placed it online around 8:30pm CST. Knowing my audiences' behaviors and likeliness to be online during these hours too played a key part in its "going viral."
Gen Y Is Plugged In
Because Generation Y is viral and "plugged-in"- communication with them is as well. Generation Y protests through blogs, tweets, and facebook events thus creating an, "internet culture." People feel passionately about Social Media because their emotional identity is literally tied to technology as a way of portraying themselves in virtual reality. When utilizing Social Media for Social Platforms, employing the most popular channels and positioning your message in a clear, understandable, and relatable message is vital. Make posts at a popular time of night where your community will be more likely to be online and interacting with your pages.
Be The Change You Seek
Social Media offers you a platform to start something. You can make history. So get out there and start a conversation. It's the sharing of opinions that makes social media the perfect breeding ground for change. Have you used Social Media for social change? Please comment with your stories!
Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/curns/5090466586