Working in a content-heavy industry I tend to make extensive notes and scribblings. Last week I was working on a press release and looked down to my notepad to see the phrase ‘blood donors for cats’. I had no recollection of writing this and it wasn’t relevant to anything I was working on but it caught my eye and I had to investigate further. It turns out that this was related to the program, Supervet on Channel 4, that my colleague had watched that highlighted the true power of social media.
The program had reported the story of a cat that had been hit by a car and was in desperate need of medical attention and crucially, blood. Not being a feline aficionado, I questioned whether there was a large enough pool of cats that are willing to become blood donors, but after sending out a Facebook post, the vet received three responses (from owners) while the surgery was taking place. In any other circumstance it would be impossible to contact such a wide network of people immediately and seek help. But by harnessing social media the vet was able to get hold of the right type of cat blood, which I imagine isn’t readily available, and ultimately it went on to make a full recovery.
And this isn’t the only example of social media being used for real good. Stephen Sutton made the news recently for raising over £4m for the teenage cancer trust at the time of his death on May 14th. This incredible achievement wouldn’t have been possible without the networking potential of platforms like Twitter, Facebook & Google + and their ability to transmit messages to truly global audiences and raise awareness.
We’ve also seen the #bringbackourgirls hashtag that has helped to alert the world to the plight of more than 200 kidnapped school girls in Nigeria. While millions of people read the stories in newspapers across the world, it was only through social media that the campaign was really able to get going and build up support that was impossible to ignore.
There’s also the example of the ‘Bat Kid’ in San Francisco for the crown of most heart-warming social media campaign. The Make-A-Wish Foundation organised an event for a little boy suffering from acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, a lethal form of cancer that he had been battling since birth. His wish was to be Batman and, armed with the hashtag, #SFBatKid, the campaign went viral. This resulted in thousands of San Francisco citizens, including the mayor, taking part in a series of staged crime scenarios for the benefit of the young boy. The fact that this hashtag was able to garner the support of so many citizens and bring the community together really does highlight how social media can have a huge impact on people’s lives.
The true power
So next time your organisation is pushing out marketing material on Twitter, or on Facebook promoting its next CSR campaign, just remember how far reaching social media can be and the good it can do. It’s all too easy to focus on the possible negatives at the expense of the potential of various platforms and the benefits they can bring. And hopefully by reading this piece, you may begin to understand that we live in a time of the most powerful communication tools in history.
What are your favourite social media campaigns?
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