Harnessing the transformative power of social media for social good

BBSM socialmediaSociety has entered a new paradigm… the biggest shift since the internet revolution. Social media and the mobile web has changed the way government, business, nonprofits and communities interact with each other and the world around them.

What I believe is really exciting is the transformative power of social media for social good. Some key statistics:

  • 170 million people globally have taken action on Causes.com
  • A ‘Thunderclap’ tweet and Facebook post issued simultaneously across the globe for World Humanitarian Day had a social reach of over 1 billion
  • 57% of Facebook fans ‘like’ a charity on Facebook because they want to publicly display their support of the non-profit to their friends
  • During Hurricane Sandy 1.3 million images were posted on Instagram by users
  • 400,000 users downloaded the CFA FireReady app which enables people to help themselves and their neighbours by sharing bushfire information via social media
  • Almost 1/4 of Australian consumers have switched from their usual product/service to another, because of its support of a cause/charity
  • 50% of shoppers have made a purchase based on the recommendation of the people they follow (and like) on social networks


Whether you’re a government agency, business or nonprofit, these statistics mean that if you engage in social media as a ‘good social neighbour’ you will build brand value and be rewarded with brand advocacy. Also, whether your community is local, state, national or global, the same principle applies, because social media has created a global community where people want to join together to help each other.

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I experienced this transformative power of social media for social good in my role as Founder and CEO (voluntary) of the Emergency 2.0 Wiki, a non-profit global online resource for using social media in emergencies. This world first initiative would not have been possible without social media and a global community of volunteers.

Galvanised by the devastating Queensland floods of 2011, Gov2qld, a voluntary community of practice of people working in the social media/government field utilised Twitter, a LinkedIn Group, a Blog, YouTube, Slideshare, Skype, Google Docs and the Wiki itself to create and build a global collaborative knowledge sharing and crowdsourcing community of organisations and professionals from business, government and the nonprofit sector. Social media has enabled people across the world to join together, share information, co-create knowledge and amplify the cause of using social media to build resilient communities.

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The World Humanitarian Day ‘Thunderclap’, in which a billion people across the globe were reached simultaneously via a Tweet and Facebook post, is a great example of harnessing the transformative power of using social media for social good while building brand value. The whole of community: business, not for profits, governments and the public joined together to utilise their social media accounts to spread the message of taking action to do good using the Twitter hashtags #WHD2012 #IWASHERE.

Thunderclaps have proved an extremely powerful tool to create a campaign or publicly support a cause aligned with your organisation’s brand values and to leverage that support through the amplification effect of social media.

Causes.com is another powerful social media platform for business, government and not for profits to utilise for social change, brand advocacy and brand building through awareness raising, pledges, petitions and fundraising. Given that over 20% of people who take action on causes.com encourage their family and friends on Facebook to join them, this is an extremely effective tool. (Though it must be noted that only US charities can receive donations via causes.com at the present time).


And, if you are a business, large or small, Causes.com is an excellent mechanism for creating or aligning with a cause that fits your brand values and then leveraging your involvement through amplification via Facebook, Twitter and your other social media channels. A great example of an organisation doing this well is AT&T’s ‘Connect for Good’ cause which supports numerous campaigns on Facebook, resulting in over 250,000 actions and raising over $US 400,000.

Imagine the brand value of having 250,000 positive actions undertaken by people on social media across the globe, associated with your brand?

Whether you’re utilising social media to help provide sports equipment for your local school, empower youth at risk or provide clean water to a village in Africa, you can build brand value by being a ‘good social neighbour’.

The term ‘social media as a service’ has now emerged in the government sector as agencies are realising that social media is not just for community engagement, but can be used as a tool to deliver services and empower citizens in areas such as emergency management, youth services, seniors services, services for people with a disability and for the culturally and linguistically diverse. Checkout this powerful infographic “LocalGov2.0: How Council Can Use Social Media” by the team at Symphony3.



An inspirational example of this is New York City, now dubbed ‘the Social City’ which uses a variety of social media channels to support over 60 agencies in their service delivery and engagement. They also provide innovative mobile apps due to their commitment to open data and city sponsored ‘hackathons’. Checkout their Digital Roadmap.

CFA FireReady app

CFA FireReady app via www.cfa.vic.gov.au/plan-prepare/fireready-app/

Having worked across all three sectors (government, business and nonprofit) in my marketing communications career, and now as a passionate advocate for utilising social media to build resilient communities, I have never been so optimistic about the opportunities for social good that social media and mobile technologies offers.

I’m also thrilled to share that today is the launch of +Social Good, a platform that unites a global community of innovators around a shared vision: The power of technology and new media to make the world a better place. I’ve joined and I encourage you to do the same! Checkout their YouTube video:

I established Byron Bay Social Media as a social enterprise to help government, business and nonprofits leverage the transformative power of social media for social good. I also aim to help build connected, empowered communities, because I believe that connected communities are resilient communities.

If your organisation would like assistance in utilising and leveraging social media to build your brand and create brand advocates while having a positive impact on your community, I would love to hear from you. Whether you need help with strategy, social media policy, guidelines, or training I would be interested in having a chat.

I aim, through this blog, TwitterFacebook, LinkedIn and future social media channels, to showcase inspirational examples of the transformative power of social media for social good in government, business and the not for profit sectors. If you would like to share any examples please post them here or contact me. Thank you!

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