Most of the topics that we address here at Polka Dot Impressions have to do with business marketing and using social media to that end. But you can’t be a “user” of social media and not realize that the impact of it is far wider than business growth. Stories abound of reunions by long-separated families and friends, all finding each other through social media. We’ve also heard the stories of how social media has been the primary source of communication in cases of natural disaster. And now, one of the growing trends in social media is social good.
Social good has been defined in a variety of ways, but essentially social media is used to create awareness, raise funds, or draw attention to an issue that affects society at large. In fact, many organizations are developing subsidiary companies or whole departments in order to oversee efforts of social good on behalf of the business. From small to big, corporate to individual, it cannot be denied that social media is contributing to a powerful trend. Looking at some of the ways a single individual can make a difference, let’s look at a specific case.
A Case Study
In 2012, a young woman attends a college lecture for extra credit. The topic was Alzheimer’s disease. She was curious about the disease because her grandmother suffered from it, and she wanted to know more about coping with the effects it was having on her family. As a result of that lecture, she joined a “Walk to End Alzheimer’s.” Within a few months of that decision, however, her grandmother passed away.
As a way to keep her grandmother’s memory alive and funnel her sadness in a positive way, this young woman has continued to participate in the Walk each November by organizing a team and soliciting funds. These funds go toward research, caregiver support, and education for families that suffer from the effects of this disease. In three years, she has personally raised about $5,000 – most of it coming through social media outreach, and she’s still in college, doing this on a personal level.
Social good is not an easy endeavor in an economic situation where everyone is watching their pennies so closely. With that in mind, let’s look only at her 2012 numbers:
- Raised this year – $1,745
- Of that figure, $1, 085 (62%) came through some sort of social media
- Nearly 26% of her funds came directly from Facebook
For a single individual, using primarily social media, we should all be quite impressed with her efforts. But in discussing this with her, she shared some interesting facts. Last year, the average cost per hour to a caregiver of an Alzheimer’s patient was approximately $12.12. Using her social media efforts, she has raised about 90 hours of care giving. Or, if viewed from the perspective of nursing home costs ($222/day for a shared room), she has raised about 5 days of care. Clearly the costs of Alzheimer’s care are staggering, but she is determined to make a difference. I encourage you to visit Ms. Gillen’s website and support her team, “Vi is for Victory,” if possible. Her team is named for her grandmother, Viola.
Like her, many others are undertaking passionate campaigns to reach personal goals of social good – and using social media to do it. As an individual, this is quite impressive. But wouldn’t it be even more impressive if companies and businesses got equally passionate about doing social good?
Personally, I am challenged by her efforts. How about you?