8.27.2008

Social Media Does Do More Than It Claims

Since I published the following post on the Buzz Bin (on August 12), hundreds of us watched as Beth Kanter made a similar fundraising request - and succeeded in raising nearly $3,000 in one hour. Her technique was much more effective than the one I cover below. Just my two cents, of course: It takes all types of outreach to get people's attention on issues.

Jeremy Pepper has requested that consultants prove that social media works - that it can be used for good. Calling out a dozen of some of the most well-known and influential in our flock, he points out what these folks (all men, as an aside) haven't done and/or should be doing by way of affecting change for a particular cause.

Hold up, wait a minuteNow, I've also called pros to task on using social media for good, too. But it's unfair to assume that social media at large and the people Jeremy listed aren't doing good things. Consultants don't live and die by their social media activity. People DO do things that aren't broadcast across Twitter and Technorati, from donating to volunteering.

"Charity" takes so many different forms. Sometimes it's a monetary gift. Sometimes it's taking 10 extra minutes to listen to a problem. Other times its NOT lambasting someone (in private or public) who really should get their ass handed to them.

We can't assume that people who don't talk about doing good through social media aren’t doing good at all.

And, for the record, a lot of people are doing a lot of good via that wild & woolly Web of ours. A lot of this action is driven by nonprofits/NGOs, which over the centuries have had to deal with more obstacles than merely those presented by social media just to get people to donate a buck.

Civic engagement and open sourced, social media are people-driven - a match made in heaven for advocacy. Social media presents countless opportunities, but an equal number of challenges to match. Progress is being made but it takes time. For years, nonprofit leaders, marketers and consultants have put out rallying cries to dig into this space, and every week this community is learning from each other and refining the process. "The ask" requires trust, and to get in the trust tree, you need relationships, relevance and tact.

have faith

Sure, we all have room to do more - and I put myself at the top of the list of people who should do more. But people should be allowed to choose their causes and not blamed if they don't support yours (with all due respect to Jeremy's friend Lisa).

Those of us who are so concerned that others take action should lead by example. It's not just about one cause - it's about getting society to adapt a cause-focused mindset. A tall order that cannot be fulfilled by "social media consultants" alone. Find your own way to help, tell others about it, and invite/encourage them to join you. They might already be a champion for something else, in their own way, and that's okay.

[Image credits: "Time Out!" by threecees & "Urban Optimism" by hoveringdog]

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