Social Media is Creating a Better World

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Living within Social Media as a whole teaches me a lot. It is a student of life’s greatest gift. The more time I spend with Social Media the more I realize how much of a paradigm shift we are really dealing with. Journalism, Marketing, Advertising, Politics, Business, are all changing in significant ways by the social web. And the more examples I see of these changes, the more I view them, as a whole, as better for the world. Social Media is in fact making the world better.

PeaceSign 2006 Budapest

Transparency

Online consumers are hungry for information about their brands. Social Media gives them new levels of access and speed that are increasingly forcing companies to be more transparent. No more quietly sweeping problems under the rug or hoping no one notices your shortcomings. Product reviews/ratings, constant consumer discussions, and conversations by competitors are all fighting for the same space. Consumers would rather talk to each other about your brand than take your word for it. Word of mouth marketing is becoming less of an option and more of a reckoning.

Who wins?

The brand that is the most honest and most transparent wins, because it has the least to hide. The company that does the most good and the least harm will impress the consumer the most. This information now jumps from consumer to consumer with magnificent speed and efficiency. Those who cut corners and try to work the system will eventually be revealed for what they are within such an open environment.

When you know someone is always watching, your tend to behave a little better, give a little more to charity, treat your customers with more respect. The someone that is always watching has more power within Social Media, because it is not just one consumer, it is a collective, a community of concerned citizens.

Example: Target PR Misses the Mark

Philanthropy

Perhaps the most obvious of the 5 is the rise of charitable giving online. Social Media creates an opportunity for small charities or fly by night altruism to make a big impact. Using the reach of the audience on large networks like Blogging, Facebook, and Twitter creates giving opportunities where thousands of people can pool small donations to create big change.  Or they can give awareness to causes that would struggle for attention otherwise.

Some great success stories so far:

  • 12 for 12k – an effort to get at least 1,200 people to raise $12,000 per month for a different charity, raising a total of $144,000 by December 31 2009
  • Tweetsgiving – for Thanksgiving 2008, they raised over $10,000 in just 48 hour to fund a new classroom for a school in Tanzania
  • Twestivus – close to 1,000 volunteers hosted events in over 200 cities around the world on the same day. In all, more than 10,000 people attended. raising over $250,000  and counting
  • Compassion Bloggers – they’re using their influence in the blogosphere to transform the lives of children in poverty worldwide

Community

Humans are social animals. Humans have healthier and longer lives when they are in active social environments, strong communities. I would not go so far as to say Social Media can replace that physical community for a person, but it is can be a valuable aid. You can build valuable relationships with people online. Doing so will make a person happier. Value in these relationships creates a sense of fulfillment for people and reduces stress and anxiety.

A person’s community becomes a support mechanism. A source of praise. A source of entertainment. A source of encouragement. This is true in real life and online.

Collaboration

Information flows more quickly – Ideas more freely – Changes are made more efficiently. The lifespan of a project online shortens dramatically. Therefore innovation and improvements can happen more quickly online. Bringing great minds together in real life is always a good step for any project. Doing it online and you are able to leap ahead within project timelines. You are also less restricted by time table of who can work when or by the geographic location of the experts you need support from.

Everything from music albums to to t-shirts to company names to solutions for corporate America is being done online, every day, through collaboration. Working together online will only get more efficient and effective as the tools and software we use improves. Sharing information, best practices, and solutions through the internet, across the globe, will allow all of use to do more good in the world.

Access

The discussion is no longer a one way conversation, from brand to consumer. If a company is large enough, people are talking to each other about them online, with or without the company participating. Being able to talk to Comcast, Best Buy, Home Depot, Dunkin Donuts and others immediately, as I have an issue, idea, or concern, not only gives me access to their brand in a way that solves my problem or curiosity, but also in a way that betters that brand. Their stock rises in the mind of every happy consumer. If that consumer gets an answer or just a positive response from them quickly, then even better. Social Media makes this possible on a level that has never been possible.

This goes beyond gaining access to a company. It applies to everything form  travel to everyday problem solving to public relations. That reporter you can never get to cover the story you care about now has a blog you can comment on. When you travel to a new city, there are dozens of websites and mobile apps that allow you to immidiately gain a familiarity with a new, strange place. When you need help with almost any problem you are having from fixing your computer to cooking dinner, odds are there is a forum, a facebook group, and a dozen experts on Twitter that are there to aid you in your trials.

Some of these are very trivial examples, but this access reaches more worthy causes as well. It aids in every other topic I have included. Access can improve a philanthropy’s chances of being successful. It can allow citizens better communication with politicians. It can help people laid off from work get immediate support and sometimes even immediate leads for a new gig.

The speed, connectivity, and openness of Social Media gives us access to people and ideas that were unthinkable not too long ago.

RELATED: How Twitter Can Make You A Better (and Happier) Person

A Better Way

The ability for Social Media to improve people’s lives will only increase in the future. Beyond the constant improvements in technology, connecting people in this way will only help them better each other. The best values and causes rise to the top as strong examples and what we all know we could be doing better. Helping another person within the visible community that is Social Media is a billboard for altruism that gets passed along over and over again.

How do you see Social Media bettering the world?

Whenever you see Social Media making a positive impact on the world in the future, tag it with “smgood” or on twitter #smgood.

8 Responses

  1. […] See the original post here:  Social Media is Creating a Better World | Jason Keath […]

  2. Christian
    |

    To me social media is great in that it does break down the barriers of the gatekeepers of knowledge to get to the truth, but it also adds to the BS in that the old saying goes, "Opinions are like assholes and everybody has one." It makes the gray area more well grey.

    For example, granted journalists with have come under a bad PR rap lately whether it be that it is the "liberal media" and unethical journalism only helps to further that by some newspaper reporters completely fabricating stories. However, on the opposite side of the coin you will have opposing view who has no formal educational background claiming to be a credible expert who people will follow because of similar beliefs that aren't necessarily the truth, often seen in today's talking heads of politics. These people know their target audience is too lazy or doesn't have the time to cross reference the truth. They are too busy trying to make a living. This is how the class system Upper, middle and lower has always worked. This plays into this constant battle of the various waves/ages we all learn about in school of knowledge equals power. The agricultural age, industrial age, technology age, etc. This thinking will and has adapted to social media. Some may see it as an adaption, but to others it might be more on an extension. The content hasn't changed just the way it is being delivered.

    You can apply the same thinking to any category with regards to Marketing (product reviews, testimonials, advertisements, infommercials – Billy Mays, etc) and PR. The message hasn't changed just the vehicle. Access to the politician went from the form letter in the mail to the form letter via email, etc. from a secretary.

    The only reason there is a paradigm shift is happening right now is because there is nothing to watch on TV (except all the fabulous "reality shows" dumbing down America), almost everybody has a computer or internet ready device, people can get their news customized and in real time and the economy is in the dumper thus ramping up the new technology apps and Google dominance. Convenience has killed traditional media and they are playing a reactive game. Some may say they saw it coming and that is why you had deregulation of FCC rules for company owners to only be able to own so many radio and TV stations and newspapers. Those rules weren't just there for money purposes, but potential influential purposes, liberal, conservative or otherwise.

    Another example of double edged sword is Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and other networking sites. It is great in that we can get back together with old friends or even kids from high school who we didn't get along with, but communicate with now because we are adults and hopefully more mature. ;) This does bring a sense of community although temporarily or longer by geo-location, but often too much time is being spent on social aspects and not doing ones work that one was hired for. Counterproductive is some arenas. Not to mention it keeps the individuals and families away from being social with each other and neighbors. An old coworker told me how his teenage daughter would be on the internet chatting with a friend while being on the phone with the same friend. Great for marketing and advertising of communication services, but not good for human interaction face to face and getting away. Part of the reason we as a nation are getting fatter. Eating chemically enhanced fast food rather then eating healthy and exercising. People wonder why healthcare costs are going through the roof. Part of is the babyboomer generation is living longer, but this also contributes to being unhealthy in the long wrong.

    I don't want to sound like a total debbie downer because I agree with what you have to say. Alvin Toffler wrote about this in Future Shock and you see proof of it things like Amazon's Kindle and elswhere. Proof is in Obama's pudding the positive importance to social media, but it is only a matter of time that the old guard catches on and uses it for not doing the right thing. I think it depends on ones education and how we utilize it. The question that will remain to be seen is are we wading through the bullshit or creating more of it. Does short term gains in the name of commercialism outweigh the importance of the long term big picture health of the worlds resources. The CEO of an SEO/SEM firm sent me a video to a great Lous CK clip:


  3. Corey Creed
    |

    You have some great points in here Jason. There are a lot of wonderful things being done with the tools of Social Media. I can't help but wonder how much more will happen when more and more start using it. Right now, I still think the main tools of the Internet are email and search engines. The numbers we hear about Facebook and Twitter seem awfully inflated to me.

    I love using the social media tools and think they have great value, but most all of my "normal" friends and family have no clue about them. They do not seem to have hit mainstream yet, although most that use them have "numbers" that disagree. I think the power of social media will be even stronger when it does hit mainstream – like television or cell phones have.

    Nice post. Thanks for taking the time to write it. Your optimism is refreshing as well.

    Corey

  4. jakrose
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    Social Media is definitely not as ubiquitous as email or search yet. I agree with you there Corey. I just read that 75% of 18-24 year olds spend significant time on social networks. And I would argue most online users utilize social media tools like forums, ratings, reviews is some capacity. So the saturation is building. And no matter where the numbers actually fall, Social Media will always include thought leaders and trend setters. They say 20% of people influence the decisions, especially the money decisions, of the other 80%. How much of that 20% do you think is actively involved in Social Media?

    Would like to see studies on how online influencers impact offline society/business/economy.

  5. MLDina
    |

    I love the shift that social media is making in communicating. Connecting and finding potential business partnerships is so much easier thanks to the internet; social media platforms just added a bonus by allowing personal brands to become much more interactive.

    Jumping on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook saves time (which also saves money) that phones and traditional mail have always lacked. Hopefully the online marketing industry, as well as other niches, become more more efficient and social media platforms stick around for the long haul.

    You also mentioned charity. If any central Floridians (or philanthropic social media-ites) are interested, we'll be hosting a charity bowl-a-thon in March. Details can be found at http://www.bripardun.com or on the link in my comment name. Feel free to contact me for more details!

  6. jakrose
    |

    Social Media is definitely not as ubiquitous as email or search yet. I agree with you there Corey. I just read that 75% of 18-24 year olds spend significant time on social networks. And I would argue most online users utilize social media tools like forums, ratings, reviews is some capacity. So the saturation is building. And no matter where the numbers actually fall, Social Media will always include thought leaders and trend setters. They say 20% of people influence the decisions, especially the money decisions, of the other 80%. How much of that 20% do you think is actively involved in Social Media?

    Would like to see studies on how online influencers impact offline society/business/economy.

  7. Lisa Hickey
    |

    Someone shared with me the fact that they thought they had become a kinder person through Social Media. Not just on line, but in real life, they held doors open more, were more patient, more thoughtful. I laughed, not because I didn’t believe that person, but because I had seen it happen to me as well. And the reason is because of all the points you so eloquently make, Jason. That even as an individual I am more transparent, my community has expanded to include people who challenge my views, I collaborate on every new idea I have now. I myself see only the sharing, the philanthropy, and the generosity of people who truly believe Social Media can make the world a better place, and I want to be one of those people as well. Thank you.

  8. jakrose
    |

    Social Media is definitely not as ubiquitous as email or search yet. I agree with you there Corey. I just read that 75% of 18-24 year olds spend significant time on social networks. And I would argue most online users utilize social media tools like forums, ratings, reviews is some capacity. So the saturation is building. And no matter where the numbers actually fall, Social Media will always include thought leaders and trend setters. They say 20% of people influence the decisions, especially the money decisions, of the other 80%. How much of that 20% do you think is actively involved in Social Media?

    Would like to see studies on how online influencers impact offline society/business/economy.