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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.