by James Bedell
As I typed the title of this post, even I cringed. Anyone who thinks they’re a social media “guru” or “expert” or whatever, is wrong. Why? Because Web 2.0 style social media is too new to have any experts. How can you be an expert on Twitter when it’s only really been around for three years, and popular for one? How can you know how to treat Facebook when the functions keep changing. In truth, no one is really sure what the effect of updating your status and tweeting your thoughts constantly will do to our culture yet. We’ve moved beyond insta-polling and gotten to the point where Twitter can tell you what the world is saying about any subject almost instantly.
Within this tapestry of intermingling voices (that was a pretty way of describing what others might call “noise”) there are real communities forming, there are real examples of the social web becoming a way for people to gather and create something, a positive force for good. Some examples….
The 12for12k movement led by @dannybrown, he crowdsources – leveraging social media to raise funds for different charities all year. His work and the work of all those donating their time and money is changing the world in a positive way by personally linking others on the social web to their movement. It’s a massive shift in the way we think about charity donation. It’s web based, diffuse, and personal–you feel like you KNOW those who fight for 12for12k because, well, you do.
What if you are struck by a personal tragedy, say contracting cancer? Today, you can leverage the social web to make a difference. That’s what Drew Olanoff is doing via Twitter. His @drew account, followed by over 10,000 people is inspiring people to fight cancer. Not only has he partnered with @livestrong to raise money, including auctioning his twitter handle to Drew Carey, but he’s done something bigger. He’s attacked cancer with his unique brand of humor. Now anyone on Twitter that has something to complain about can #blamedrewscancer it’s a way to use humor to raise awareness across the web and anyone can participate. That’s the power of social media to do good in our society.
But if you’re like me, you want to do something practical. You want to use the social web to solve a problem. I want to make our building stock in the US more sustainable, so I’m starting a company called Build2Sustain to do it. Part of starting that company has been signing on an advisory board. Every single member of that advisory board is someone I began conversing with through Twitter. Reading their thoughts on sustainability and the building space, I got a sense for their thought processes. We tweeted, we emailed, we spoke on the phone, now we work together to try and build a business that might help the world in some small way.
The walls have been broken down and now if you really are committed to an idea or a cause, you can find others who are too. You can reach out and get inspired through the work of others, join a cause or start one of your own.