The helpful side of social media

The helpful side of social media
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When someone says social media, usually two things come to mind: socializing and advertising. Businesses use social media platforms to market to their target audiences. People generally use social media to keep up with family and friends, post pictures and pass along funny videos and memes. At the crossroads of these two things is the helpful side of social media: where businesses get people involved in charities and other good causes. While there are other ways to use social media, raising awareness for a cause is often overlooked, even though most of us participate in it.

This is because human beings naturally want to help each other out. We are more likely to pass along information that we know is for a good cause or can help someone we know directly, than to pass on a carefully constructed piece of marketing material. This is why charities and other businesses that specialize in helping people, like addiction centers, have more power on social media than ever before.

Making Political Changes

On January 17, 2011, Filipinos used social media to make a drastic change in their political government. Through the power of text messaging - which is considered social media, though not the same as a social networking website - they were able to get their President impeached.

Nearly 7 million text messages were sent in the span of 2 hours. These text messages coordinated over a million people to the cause. The response was so alarming legislators had no choice but to listen to the people.

This was the first incident of people using social media to make political changes. Now this power has expanded from text messaging to using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter to coordinate similar movements. In 2009 the Communist party in Moldova lost its power when protests broke out because of fraudulent elections. These protests were coordinated through Facebook, Twitter and text messaging.

These examples show that people can quickly coordinate with their peers through social media. Messages can go viral in a matter of hours, spreading like wildfire. They become powerful forces for change, a change that likely would not have happened without an unrestricted global platform that is easy to access.

Furthering Good Deeds Through Crowdfunding

In 2011 Krochet Kids International started a Kickstarter campaign. They hire women so that they can get out of poverty. The women make crochet hats for children. The income they make helps them to get out of poverty.

Krochet Kids wanted to make enough money to expand to Peru. They needed $6,000. They raised over $37,000.

Stockbox Grocers helps try to make help make healthy food available to Americans Who do not have access to it. In that same year they started a Kickstarter campaign. They needed $15,000. They made over $20,000.

DrinkSavvy invented drinkware that identifies date rape drugs. They created cups that change colors when the drugs are added to drinks. They asked for $50,000 to get started. They made a little over $52,000.

These are just three examples of charitable organizations using crowdfunding to fund their campaigns. Crowdfunding is incredibly popular. It's a great way to reach people who are already in a giving mood. Most people on crowdfunding sites love to donate to causes, whether it's a potato salad party or a project by an independent artist. As long as it's for a good cause, people will donate to it.

The popularity of crowdfunding is owed, in part, to the fact that people can link to campaigns through social media. People often find causes they are passionate about and post about them. Most campaigns get their funding through social sharing. Successful campaigns often exceed their financial goals by a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars.

Directly Interacting With Social Media to Raise Awareness

In 2014, the Ice Bucket Challenge was all the rage. People recorded videos of having ice water dumped on them. If they got wet,  they would donate a certain amount to the ALS Association.

It was all in good fun. Even celebrities were participating in it. There are plenty of hilarious videos on YouTube of people taking the challenge. The best part is it was for a good cause. The ALS Association raised $115 million. It's been one of the most successful uses of social media to date.

Mainstream social networking sites aren't the only ones that aim to help people. There are social networking sites that are specifically designed for a group of people that need help. Take the site AddictionTribe.com. It is a free site for people who need help with staying sober. There is plenty of information, games and ways to connect with others.

Sites like Addiction Tribe know how important it is to be surrounded by people who support you. They provide that support through social networking. Using sites like this make your chances of remaining sober even better. They can help you work through tough times, avoid relapse triggers, or help you find help if you're looking for it in your area. There are also mobile apps used for the same purposes.

All in all, social media isn't just for selfish purposes. Sometimes it is used to be selfless. Whether it's through texting, Twitter, crowdfunding or an app, social media can be used to make the world a better place. Sources: