Business / Corporate Social Responsibilty / Social Entrepreneurship / Social Media

Social Media for Social Change

Today marks the beginning of a series of serious ongoing discussions on social media for Social Media Week happening in various cities worldwide. More pertinent to the cause on social change for social good in Singapore #smwsg is the promising discussion which aims to Change the World with a Hashtag. #smwsgchange

The panel of diverse speakers include Grace Chua (Journalist with The Straits Times), Patsian Low (Deputy Director, Philanthropy Division of National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre), Kevin Straszburger (Head of Marketing and Social Media at Crowdonomic), Jason Aspes (Founding Partner of Newton Circus), Dorjee Sun (CEO of Carbon Conservation) and Robin Low (Founder of Relief 2.0). Reputable in their own rights and familiar with the difficulties of either entrepreneurship or raising funds, or both, these speakers reveal the difficulties despite its necessities of using social media for social causes.

A pertinent question arose during the discussion: How does an organisation, a group or an enterprise dealing with social causes avoid getting its message lost in the noise of social media? At the risk of oversimplifying, a common denominator arose that one must first find a core audience (target market), understand the conversations that are already happening within this target market, and find a tipping point in this conversation to drive the message home. Easier said then done definitely. There are more than one core audience that an organisation can approach. Also, with varied interests and the overeagerness to share and support a variety of causes from the trivial to the tragic on the social platform, it still does take some effort to sift through the information to find one key conversation that one can leverage on to drive home a message. The solutions provided could be summed up into 5 main points.

No New Content, Follower

1. Find a Niche through Trends

Understand that being a jack of all trades and the master of none on social media will horribly dilute an organisation’s message. Instead, find that one topic or trend that fits with the goals, visions or values of the organisation and contribute to it. An amplified bunch of microtrends can lead to an explosion of a macrotrend. Once you are able to amplify a message, you create a movement.

Be patient when nothing seems to work though. Short attention spans on social media means that trends die fast. This is might be a bane – you might not have been quick enough to leverage on a trend. Fret not though, the good news is that there are so many trends out there, you’ll just have to hone your skills to get better at spotting or creating one. Which brings us to our next point.

2. Provide Value

An organisation could provide value by following a trend or creating a trend. Value can be created by providing relevant content about the industry or the organisation itself through a variety of ways – articles, images, events, activities.

3. Timing is Crucial

Find a wave, and ride it – identify a trend and leverage on the society’s interest to create social change. There will be critical mass in trends, which can have the potential to be exponentially more powerful than when attempting to create a trend.

PETA, Harlem Shake

4. Reaching Beyond your Reach

This seems contradictory, but what it means is to be open to the world beyond your geographical location. Singapore is in a fortunate location, in that is surrounded by many neighbours, so it is possible to leverage on, and impact, the region.

5. A Sustained Message as opposed to a Vanishing Message

Understand the medium. There is a growing number of social media platforms that organisations can tap on, and it is important to understand the purposes of each. For instance, one would blog about a cause for more permanence, and tweet about the same cause to rally supporters in bursts of energy. Facebook is great for conversation, while Instagram is key for visual content. The lesson to note is to always be authentic. There are no points for being schizophrenic in your content on your various social platforms, nor does it pay to be inauthentic to your cause. Find a message, amplify it, and create a social movement.

Ultimately, the key to social change is engagement and interaction. You need active participants, so do what you will to keep your fans interested in your cause.

Social Media noise

Feedback: While the content provided by the speakers was relevant, I felt that more moderation is required for the many speakers on the panel. It started in a slightly haphazard manner where the speakers introduced themselves, and it took a while to gain traction on a particular point of discussion. It would help that the topic (Change the World with a Hashtag) was discussed in greater depth. Overall, it was adequately informative.

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