When I was still a pretty little kid, the big Live Aid fundraiser happened. I didn’t really understand a whole lot about this place called Ethiopia, but I understood the pictures of the little kids, about my age, with distended bellies, vacant eyes, covered in flies. Rock band, rock band, rock band, starving children. Rock band, rock band, rock band, starving children. I sat there and started to get antsy. Sure, I could have figured out that donating money would have been doing something, but it felt like I needed to do more. My big answer was to start making those tiny little potholders on the plastic loom in an attempt to make blankets for those kids.
As you might imagine, that effort didn’t get very far.
That antsy feeling has stayed with me my whole life, at least so far. When I see someone in pain, I figure, well, might as well try to make it better. When I see a catastrophe, I’m hungry to help. And then suddenly this whole social media thing came along, and I thought, My GOD! We all have the ability to better the world, right here at our fingertips.
Our voices can span the globe at the speed of light.
Talking about using social media for social good is almost becoming a cliche. I don’t want that to happen though. I don’t want this concept to get watered down. I don’t want you to lose sight of what we can do with this amazing gift we have. So here are some ideas on how you can use social media to improve the world. Some ways are big, some ways are little, but every little bit helps.
1. Post what has motivated you to exercise to help motivate others
2. Post helpful, nutritious recipes
3. When you see a bulletin about a missing animal, share it.
4. When you see a bulletin about a missing child, share it.
5. When you see someone is feeling down, try to make them smile.
6. Find a charitable hashtag, follow it, and share it.
7. Retweet efforts to raise funds for not-for-profit organizations.
8. Retweet information that will inspire people to act.
9. Right blog posts answering tricky questions.
10. Answer a question for someone who is brand new to the online world.
11. Congratulate someone on a job well done.
12. Help someone else who is trying to do good.
13. Help someone else, period.
14. Write about how you overcame a major obstacle. It will offer guidance to someone else.
15. Go out of your way to talk to someone who has no followers on Twitter.
16. Share calls to action that you see charitable organizations broadcasting.
17. Start your own Facebook “cause”
18. Use your blog to highlight people who are doing social good.
19. Encourage those who are working hard to benefit others.
20. Defend someone who is being attacked.
21. Offer a kind word to someone who is being bullied.
22. Start your own online fundraising effort.
23. Share powerful photographs to get the point across that help is needed.
24. Share videos from people experiencing the worst life has to offer to motivate action.
25. Come up with solutions and toss them out to your networks without fear.
26. Donate your voice to someone who doesn’t have one, like animals, infants, or the mortally ill.
27. Raise awareness about issues people may not know about.
28. Start your own online project using video, photos, written content…all of the above.
29. Make it personal.
30. Consider the whole online world your own backyard.
31. Keep an eye on children and teens using social media.
32. Stifle harmful talk.
33. Open your mind to new ways of thinking – millions of perspectives are at your fingertips.
34. Offer hope however you can, whenever you can.
35. Create a group or a community around a cause or issue.
36. Believe that all of these things make a difference.
You might roll your eyes at some of these things. Helping someone on Twitter can make the world a better place? Sure. Why not? Any time we can lend a hand, we are improving the world for that person, right? And maybe, inspired by your act of kindness, they’ll be more inspired to lend a hand to someone else in some other way. You just never know what will be the difference-maker in someone’s life.
You have a voice. You have power. Anyone who has an online account has those things. The question is how you are going to use them.
Image by Horton Group. http://www.sxc.hu/profile/hortongrou