Using Social Media For Good

social media bullying

In the relative nanosecond that social media has been in existence – compared to the time since homo- sapiens began grunting at each other – one can argue that it’s been both humanity’s greatest social advancement and the harbinger of its doom.

But what’s not to love about a technology that instantly bridges the gap that miles have placed between families, or links like-minded strangers, or helps find long-lost friends? Well, intrusive behavior, pack-mentality social uprisings, and unseemly personal behavior…for starters.

Additionally, social media has been fertile ground for bullies (cowards really) who spew hate and gleefully shame others from the safety and anonymity of their living room couches. In this not-so-brave new world, anyone with a spleen can vent his or her opinions, regardless of who they hurt. In their wake lay millions who suffer from depression, who fear going to school, who have low self-esteem, and who have had their lives upended. Some of these people, in fact, end their own lives just to stop the pain and humiliation.

So does the social media community, including marketers, have any culpability here? Shall we counteract what social media has arguably birthed? Can we – should we – be part of the solution, since we are part of the problem. And, even if we’re not, do we have a role in helping to create a community that rises up to combat what ails it?

Facebook, for one, thinks so. Partnering with Now Matters Now, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, and other engaged organizations, they’ve recently taken proactive steps to help prevent suicides. Now, according to a University of Washington report, if someone on Facebook sees that a friend has posted something of concern – perhaps threatening personal harm – they can now click an arrow on the post to report it. They’ll also be given the option to contact the friend who wrote the post, contact another friend for backup, or contact a suicide helpline.

Facebook then gets involved by reviewing the posts in question and proactively sending a message to the distraught poster. Then they offer the option to actually get involved by linking them with a professional or giving them tips about how to get through their difficult time.

What else can be done, one wonders? Should corporations sponsor campaigns that counteract all the bad with good? Can they encourage building up others’ self-esteem in some brilliant marketing campaign that aligns with their brands and their goals? Should they?

Could national brands like Chik-fil-A or Justice or Verizon (whose services are being used by the cyberbullies) benefit by aligning itself with an organization like Community Matters (http://community-matters.org/)? Would CFOs and CMOs cough up precious marketing dollars to spin the spotlight a little, taking it off of themselves and shining it on organizations that are rallying people to action?

Marketing has the power to move people into action. We know it gets them to open their pocketbooks. Can it also get them to open their hearts?

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