Social Media is the new media. What once was obtained from books, newspapers and magazines over the course of weeks or months, can now be read and shared online in a matter of seconds. Perhaps we should call it Fast Media. But I like the term Social, as it comes with additional connotations I think are appropriate and useful.
When you think of Social Media what’s the first image that pops into your head?
- A viral video of a stunt gone bad or cats playing the piano;
- Friend requests or comments on your status update;
- Streaming random posts filled with hashtags and @mentions;
- Photos of beautiful cakes, DIY projects, vacation spots, and the latest pajama jean trend.
No? Perhaps you’re in the crowd that has little to no idea what any of the above list just mentioned. The crowd that thinks Social Media is how college kids waste their time when they should be studying or looking for a real job.
Let’s hope you’re not in that crowd. But if you are, I’m going to show you what Social Media means to me, and maybe I’ll change your mind.
Social Media is fast becoming the way our society connects with one another. That’s not to say it’s the only way. I still prefer to meet with my clients in person, and believe that face-to-face can’t be replaced by Facetime or Facebook. But social media is the face of new media. So let’s use it to our advantage.
My definition of Social is built on the power of connections. Each one of the social media channels I use — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Foursquare — is built on the premise of growing your connections. Those social networks have power. The power to spread a message globally in seconds. Seconds!
Next I define Media as messages. Some messages are visual, auditory or a combination of both. They could be informative, entertaining or a call to action. All advertising is about conveying messages. Thus the terms Media and Advertising seem like an old married couple.
So here’s my definition of Social Media: The power to communicate messages across a global network of connections in seconds. I want that power. Don’t you want that power?
Who wouldn’t want that power?
And the best part is… it’s free. You have the power. You just need to learn to use it. What you choose to do with that power… well that’s the next question.
How do you use the power of social media for social good?
Every status update, every tweet, every video or blog post is an opportunity to share your message. With a little strategic planning you can craft a collection of messages that support a goal. Take advantage of your social networks to spread those messages and you’ve got a campaign. If you use this philosophy to raise awareness, fund-raise, or promote a cause — now you’re using it for social good.
Here are a few examples of how to use social media for social good
- Cash Mob – Select a local small business to support on a designated day. Everyone agrees to make a minimum purchase, say $10. Spread the word using your social networks.
Benefit: An injection of cash into a small business can make a huge difference. They pay-it-forward by choosing the next Cash Mob location.
- Donate for Likes – Businesses trying to grow their fan pages on Facebook or their Twitter account can offer to make a $1 donation to a cause or organization for every new like on their social media account.
Benefit: Your fan base grows, your goodwill is noticed, and a worthy charity gets a much needed donation.
- Promote a Cause – This may seem small but the power of social media to raise awareness about a cause is enormous. Every person you friend or follow magnifies your reach exponentially. Promote what you’re passionate about, what you believe in and your friends, family and followers will share it.
Benefit: Knowledge is power. That’s not a Schoolhouse Rock reference. It’s the truth.
- Create a Fundraiser – I did it with the Traverse Traveler Scavenger Hunt for Autism. We created a Facebook page for the event, promoted it through Facebook and Twitter, we built awareness about Autism and the use of iPads for students with Autism at Traverse City Area Public Schools. And we raised a lot of money in the first year. You can do it too.
Find your passion and use your social network to become a teacher, activist, volunteer and goodwill ambassador in your town. And let me know when you do, so I can share it!