Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

3 Myths of Using Social Media for Social Good (Or This is Not the End-of-the-World)

December 05, 2012

All of this end-of-the-world talk has got me thinking.

First, let’s establish that there will be no Mayan apocalypse in 2012. If you were still hesitant after NASA and thousands of other experts debunked the myth, you can rest peacefully tonight knowing that Armchair Advocates reconfirms. Sorry Mayan calendar.

Second, it made me think of other myths or misperceptions we encounter on a daily basis. Even social good has its fair share of mythology. So, without further adieu, below we offer you three truths to help debunk some myths of using social media for social good.

  1. Online Boosts – Not Replaces – Offline – There is often a misconception that social media is the silver bullet when it comes to advocating for a cause. As a result, advocates may tend to invest more time and resources in online engagement rather than offline. This should not be the case. Online advocacy should boost your offline effort, not replace it. Use social media to organize offline activities, such as visiting policymakers or calling company representatives.

  2. Advocacy Before Fundraising – According to a recent study, supporters of a cause are more likely to advocate than donate. Keep that in mind the next time you are about to click “send” on a Tweet requesting donations. It’s important to build a base of trust and engagement before you ask supporters to dip into their wallets. Start with simple advocacy asks before hitting hard on fundraising.

  3. No Zero-Sum Game – There’s no doubt about it: the charity world is a crowded space.  Today, there are more and more charities going after less and less funding. As a result, we get a little competitive, and sometimes we just plain forget to work together. Remember that social media doesn’t work that way. Cross-promotion is the key to a successful social media strategy. If you want a bigger return on your social good investment, try retweeting, sharing content from other cause campaigns, commenting, and soliciting guest posts. 

What other social media for social good “myths” have you encountered?

 
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