We all know the power media has in shaping our world. From combatting the propaganda machine in North Korea to providing U.S. internet access to the citizens of Iran to using Google to showcase gender inequality, change starts with awareness, and awareness used to depend on the news media. Social media turned this paradigm upside down – distance no longer dictates compassion.
Last year, while at the U.S. Institute for Peace, New York Times columnist Nick Kristof said that “in the future, the news will do less telling of important stories – more of it will fall on you.” That future is now: social media trends have become news, and some of the biggest stories begin online.
Now is an especially opportune time for nonprofit organizations to “Spread the Good.” Studies show that online fundraising accounts for 10% of all charitable giving–and that number is growing. Younger donors, prolific users of social media, are outpacing older donors and are more likely to take actionbased on a friend’s post (but are also more likely to gain a negative impression if online information is not up to date). Nonprofits, regardless of the size of their marketing budget, have an opportunity for their mission to stand out by being transparent, stating a clear call to action (with follow up on results), responding quickly, providing a good mobile experience, and tailoring content. Social media is one of the best low-cost ways to drive traffic to your website.
Social media for social good isn’t limited to non-profit organizations. Businesses also have an opportunity to show their corporate culture, including social responsibility. Showing how your company positively impacts the community is great content for social media posts. Additionally, brands have the opportunity to stand out amid all the noise on social media by providing excellent customer service. With more than 80% of businesses not responding to inquiries on social media, a little extra time and attention will turn your customers into loyal mouthpieces. Consumers are telling you exactly what they want, and businesses must listen. In 2013, the amount of social media users attempting to contact businesses grew 9 times. Social media plays a significant role in influencing purchasing decisions, and strategically planned, timely posts are increasing in importance. Don’t be afraid to (calmly) respond to negative postson sites such as Yelp, as consumers who see you care about your business and your ability to turn a negative into a positive will be more likely to give your business a chance.
To paraphrase Eric Qualman, the question is no longer WHY social media, but HOW – and the answer is because turning your mission into a mission accomplished is as simple as 140 characters!