Social Media for Social Good in 2012
I’ve seen tremendous social media good in 2012. Like others, this year I found myself using my blog, Twitter, Facebook, even Instagram, to give back. I now write with two organizations, The Mission List and Charitable Influence, using social media to champion social causes. Perhaps, once and for all, we’re putting the notion of someone being “just a blogger” to rest.
Be the change. Blog the change.
“A year and a half ago, I had not yet heard the term, but 2012 has truly been the year of ‘Social Good,’” says Heidi Oran who blogs at The Conscious Perspective and co-founded Charitable Influence. “It is as if a lightbulb has gone on, and we're all starting to realize that those of us who are able to freely use our voices, need to use them to represent those that are not.”
Sometimes it is the unexpected, like the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, that brings the community together. Just last week, Justine of A Half Baked Life, held an online baked goods auction from her New Jersey home, where they’d been without electricity the week following the storm. When power returned, she went to work coordinating with bakers across the blogosphere to create “Baking A Difference for the Garden State.”
Justine knew “people are more likely to rally around a cause when they feel like there's a community of people who have committed themselves to giving... By enlisting my blogging friends from across the country, we'd reach more people, and get them excited about giving together. And honestly, I was a little overwhelmed, watching my friends post and tweet on Sunday night about the auction, about their motivations for giving, and raising awareness, not just funds, for Hurricane Sandy recovery.”
“Baking A Difference” expanded the community as readers found new blogs via the group effort. Justine states,
When we use our blogs to dialogue genuinely about what's happening in our world, we become formidable change agents. And change doesn't just mean fundraising... Blogs are great platforms for brainstorming, for building networks of people with varied talents, and for reaching a wide audience... Posts are even more powerful when you can link them to a larger conversation, and it doesn't take much to start a movement; your readership may not be huge, but the readership of your readership is incalculable.
Like Justine, Jill Krause of Baby Rabies believes in using her voice. In August, she received an email from a reader named Jamie. Jamie had aggressive breast cancer. She was also six months pregnant. A double mastectomy would come just after her daughter’s arrival, but she wanted her to be fed breast milk and asked Jill for help. Jill sprang to action. “It was never a question. She needed help. It was a simple request, and I knew it was one I could help with.”
Before Jamie’s daughter arrived, the Miracle Milk Fund™ was born. Jamie’s newborn daughter receives a steady supply of breast milk via a group of women who became involved through Jill’s outreach, while the Fund will help Jamie and women like her by raising awareness about breast cancer in pregnant and breastfeeding women, lobbying for more research, and offering resources to women in similar situations.
Jill says that Jamie is doing well, and she's just happy to have been able to help. “When something speaks to your heart, help in whatever way you can.”
When the personal is political, a blog can become a powerful platform, as it has been for Dresden of Creating Motherhood. “When I first shared on my blog that my family had been saved by public assistance, I was terrified of negative response. What happened next changed my life.”
The reader response led her to create In Times Like These, a weekly series written “by real people that have real perspective on what it is or was like to need public assistance.” It also led her to the steps of the Capitol, where she was asked to speak during the National Anti-Hunger Policy conference.
“I believe that by sharing something so personal and scary I made it permissible for others to open up about their own hunger issues (within comments and personal emails). Once I realized that I was comfortable being a voice for an issue that is usually silent with shame I refused to be quiet.”