Last week, Facebook finally revealed their much hyped “life saving” feature: the organ donor status. This has sparked our interest towards other examples of how brands and charity organizations have managed to use social media as a platform to help social problems through user engagement.
Networking on social initiatives
Socialcitizens.org, part of The Case Foundation, is one of these initiatives that thrives to encourage those involved in social media (be it privately or professionally) to share problems and create solutions. Together. By motivating and inspiring the main users of social media, they match creativity with solutions and volunteers with companies. Basically; matching social problems with social media in order to build effective problem solving within a strong network of creative and social media superusers.
“Hipsterfying” a taboo
Movember is another great example of how to target people in order to engage actively through social media to help a social problem: prostate cancer. The campaign started in 2004 before social media had a firm grip on the majority of most countries’ population and the outcome was not really that impressive. Today, the campaign not only raises great awareness about men’s health and prostate cancer, in 2011 it also raised $120 millions for research in men’s health. All because of the power of social media and the right campaign audience targeting.
A jungle of good intentions
There are thousands of online services that connect causes with volunteers, creators, developers or donators. Some are free, some charge a small fee. Mutual to most services is the utilisation of user engagement and the great force of social networks: Getting a message out within seconds and creating involvement and results across timelines and continents. Facebook Causes from 2007 was part of the initial online social awareness evolution and many other services followed on apps and social media channels such as Twitter.
Combining branding and social awareness
The slide sharing service, SlideRocket, promotes their own brand by having a non-profit slide competition rewarding the slideshows with most unique visits and the best storyline with a donation of $5,000. Only requirement is that the presentation promotes a non-profit case – and that it is shared with as many people as possible. This creates both a great exposure of SlideRocket as a product as well as the good cause in question.
On a smaller scale of helping social problems, Mexican tele company Terra has placed a Poo WiFi constellation where dog owners (and the rest of the parks’ visitors) receive free WiFi for every poo-deposit as a part of Terra’s campaign for a new WiFi product. Though not providing shelter for the homeless or curing cancer, the campaign raises awareness to a daily nuisance to the park’s visitors. So, by understanding our need to be constantly online, they create active interaction.
Who are the game changers?
If launching a charity or a social problem initiative online as a part of your company’s CSR-strategy or simply in the campaign planning of a product launch, the generations of “digital natives” are the ones you need to watch and target. They are referred to as Millennials and have most likely never owned a VHS-player, composed a mixed tape to the cute girl next door or lived after the age of 10 without a Facebook profile. According to socialcitizin.org, they are already constituting the force behind the growing use of social media in the fight against social problems in our societies.
Not only replacing the old time consuming knocking on doors, the use of social media to decrease social problems offers both quick and world wide collaborative solutions as well as results.
Have your company ever considered launching a social initiative through social media?