The tools of social media are vital to social responsibility—getting the word out to the people who care, particularly Net Gen’rs. There are five tools of social media that will help an organization interact with a broad group of people. These tools are useful both for businesses that will be communicating about their products or their social responsibility initiatives and for charities that are spreading the word about the effectiveness of their initiatives.
First, there is Twitter , the largest growing messaging service in the world, that is on the forefront of social media communication. I recall a Web 2.0 Expo I attended last year in Silicon Valley. Twitter was the system for getting questions to the presenter in mid-stream. Virtually 90% of the room was on Twitter; outside the building maybe 1% of the people might have been familiar with Twitter.
Twitter is used primarily for starting conversations and sharing information. The burgeoning community is based on answering the basic question of “what am I doing now?” in 140 characters or less. Twitter is the ultimate tool for sharing, connecting, in identifying problem areas, customer satisfaction, and becoming transparent.
MakeGood uses Twitter as a way of sharing cutting edge corporate social responsibility (CSR) news with people from all over world. We share links to recent articles, converse with people on CSR topics, and give updates about MakeGood itself. We conduct polls on CSR, converse with experts, and every time a company that is using MakeGood does a something positive, we will send out a ‘tweet’ that profiles them.
Second, blogs are a great way to communicate and interact. Blogs allow people to comment, engage in the conversation, and eliminate one-way communication through commenting. This is the essence of today’s social media. A one-way conversation is passive; instead blogs allow people to respond and join in dialogue.
In order to avoid blog irrelevancy, you need to be interesting, insightful and topical. For example, Make Good is committed to blogging about corporate social responsibility, new strategies and helpful tips that employees and employers can use to learn more about social responsibility It’ a great medium for two-way communication, especially in conjunction with Twitter.
Third, Flickr allows you to share your photos with the world and connect on a broader level with like minded people. This is one of the largest search engine sites on the web. With MakeGood, all event pictures are immediately posted and shared with all. Check out our album about our recent presentation at Ideas on Tap.
Fourth, RSS feeds offer a way to push your content passively. This is a great way to have people follow what you are doing and keep communication going. Again, you have to have something worth listening to in order to have people interested in what you are saying at the moment you say it.
Lastly, YouTube , owned by Google, is not only a place for funny videos but it is also, as Chris Breikss, co-founder of S6, points out, is among the largest search engines on the web. Companies need to have a presence there. It is important to post and organize company videos so that when some one searches a topic that your company will show up. These can be short videos explaining basic concepts, but this is another way to get your content out on the web.
Of course, the extent of the use of these tools will vary, with some organizations being slower adopters than others. Businesses are adopting these tools sooner than non-profits who are constrained by having to limit overhead and marketing expenditures and have as much as possible go to worthy causes.
Social media tools increase communication and the potential for collaboration. Of course, tools can be used for a variety of purposes. But it is already becoming clear that organizations engaged in making a difference can use these tools very effectively to generate interest in their causes and to drive involvement. The bottom line is that the pursuit of social responsibility with the use of social media tools is not very responsible.