(photo credit: change.org)
In the past year, we have seen many major stories unfold via social media; from the Tiger Woods scandal, to the Gosselin divorce, to the balloon boy hoax. While these stories may seem trivial, last week, we saw how social media can also spread the word to make a difference.
After the earthquake in Haiti, Twitter was utilized to share photos and provide updates on what was happening in Haiti. Beyond sharing this information, Twitter also helped spread the word of a text message campaign hosted by the American Red Cross. People were encouraged to text 90999 to have a $10 donation added to their phone bill. As of January 17, the Red Cross reported it has raised over $22 million dollars from the campaign (New York Times). Many people spread the word about the campaign through Twitter and Facebook.
Other companies and individuals have stepped up as well; Google Inc., Coca-Cola Fund, Sandra Bullock and Madonna are among the companies and individuals that have donated $1 million to Haiti.
As organizations, companies and celebrities have been thrown into the spotlight for their generous giving, some people may wonder whether or not it is appropriate to share what they are doing via social media or pitch their story of giving to the media. Is it bad to use such a tragedy to gain attention? While this can be a touchy subject, spreading the word about who is giving and how much people are giving may inspire others to give or to start their own giving campaign.
The idea of inspiring others via social media and traditional media points to an overall trend happening online—social media good. Web sites such as change.org and dothedeed.org encourage people to take action to make a positive impact. These sites go beyond just sharing information, encouraging people to take action. Dothedeed.org promotes the idea of a chain reaction of giving; you do something nice for someone, they in turn do something nice for someone else, etc. Change.org raises awareness and gets petitions going around various issues. Sites like these are yet another way that people who otherwise had no connection can come together for a common good.
So, if your company is doing something good for someone or something—share it. Tweet it, blog it and pitch it. You never know who you might inspire.