Using Social Media for Change

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Image by danish. via Flickr

Talk about social media and many people automatically think of its business uses. While it’s as good a tool for individuals as it is for business, most social media talk at the moment is how it can benefit businesses. I’m as guilty as the next person for this, as it’s an area I always recommend clients both new and existing take a serious look at.

Yet there’s another area of social media that’s often overlooked, even though it’s quite possibly the most important use of all – using social media for social change.

There’s no end of advice around the web on how to use social media for business change, yet try and find information on how it’s being used for society and the results are less impressive.

Thankfully, there are some great organizations and influential blogs that are using social media to encourage change worldwide.

Social Media for Social Change, for example, is the brainchild of Michelle Riggen-Ransom, co-founder and Communications Director of BatchBlue Software. Michelle and guest writer T.J. Sondermann use the blog to show how technology can change the world for the better. Topics include Education, Non-Profit and Family Action Plans. There’s some great information on there and is well worth your time. is also making headway since its inception in 2005. Its core message is about effecting change both social and environmental. Excellent use of their blog and interaction with their readers and visitors, as well as various projects using social media outlets, has seen become a leading light in social change.

One company that I have a lot of time for is Kiva, whose aim is to eradicate poverty through micro-lending. Individuals or groups can offer micro-loans to entrepreneurs in developing countries, offering a more viable way to escape poverty than charity handouts that may never get past the ruling Government. Kiva uses the Internet and social networking to great effect and is making a difference to those that really need it.

With these companies and the likes of Max Gladwell, Pop! Tech and more, social media is maturing into a medium that is much more than a business marketing tool. If we really want to encourage the “social” part of social media, then these sites and others like them are leading the way.

How will you make change?

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  1. Internet Marketing Community December 8, 2008 at 2:54 am

    It would take a massive online movement to cause a swell large enough to change society as it is. I wouldn’t like to think it’s impossible, but I don’t think it is forseeable. Certainly, small groups and niches of people may find some change, but at the end of the day, painting a new picture of the whole world is difficult.

    Justin Dupre Webmaster, SEO, and Internet Marketing Community

  2. Danny December 8, 2008 at 9:19 am

    I agree that it can (and will) take time, Justin. I’m a firm believer in the greatest things starting from the smallest beginnings, though, and am optimistic about what we can achieve through time. :)

  3. Max Gladwell December 8, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Great post. Thanks for the shout out. You should also check out and the branded credit card. It doubles your loaning power through, and every new card holder means a $25 donation to

    Max Gladwell´s last blog post..The New Media Landscape: Mass Profesionalization

  4. Kimberly Bock December 8, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    One thing that stands out in my mind at this point is the fact that so many unethical (green/whitewashing) is using social change as it’s weapon of choice. A smile, a handshake, ..all business, yet sounds so earthy and healthy coming from their mouths..

    As you say, social change is being utilized by these and legit businesses to the point of diluting the actuality behind the message..

    What people are gathering from the messages are:
    1. Social change = a smile
    2. Social change = a pat on the back
    3. Social change = talk of wholesomeness or purity..
    When, in fact, social change does not equal ‘pollyanna’ or perfection, or 100% purity..It simply equals CHANGE. For the good, for the positive, for betterment, not perfection.

    Someone will say F’ing blah blah..and automatically, they are viewed as opposite of CHANGE. This is not true in reality. Change only comes from sincere effort, sincere desire, sincerity period. We are not robots and there are people out there doing their darndest to be about something improved.

    Businesses are diluting and ultimately creating an impression that says to people, “You are not about social change if you are about what we say you should be about”

    That’s dangerous, because as we change and improve, we desperately need validation. It’s difficult to find those networks.

    I could care less if someone talks about sex, talks about drinking, talks about unhealthy things..IF they are making obvious adjustments in their lives..for the good.

    That’s the only real change there is. It’s then referred to as GROWTH.

    Kimberly Bock´s last blog post..I Was Your Husbands Mistress – World AIDS Day

  5. Danny December 8, 2008 at 3:08 pm

    I agree that there can be too many companies/agencies/etc, that jump on the “change” bandwagon. This is definitely where trust and transparency comes into play, and it’s up to them to earn our trust and therefore our support.

    There are many ways change can be implemented as well as measured – whether it’s personal, social media-led or otherwise. At the end of the day, as you mention, it’s all about the end results – that’s where success will be judged.

    Thanks for stopping by and sharing your views, Kimberly, appreciated.

  6. Max Gladwell December 8, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    We certainly need to call out greenwashing and “causewashing” when we see it. But we also can’t send the message to companies that if you want to contribute and become a part of the solution, you better do it right, or else we’ll crush you.

    If we make it too risky for companies to take action and try to make a difference, they just won’t. So you’ll have a lot of well-intentioned people at the low and mid-level of a company lobbying for the benefits of a cause marketing program that can make a difference while building brand equity or achieving some other business objective. But the higher-ups might see how their other companies got crushed just for trying and say no. Then nothing happens.

    Max Gladwell´s last blog post..The New Media Landscape: Mass Profesionalization

  7. Danny December 8, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    Excellent point, Max, and perhaps a reason so many good causes are going unheard of or lacking help/publicity?

    It could also be down to perception of using social media to spread a message – there are so many conflicting views of how to best use the medium that knowing which is right is difficult. Perhaps we (as in advocates of social media and its uses) need to try and be clearer on our views to make it easier for companies to get involved?

  8. JustinSMV December 13, 2008 at 6:35 pm

    Social media for change is a very powerful way in communicating and promoting a good cause. Great point you have here. I was first introduced to something as powerful as this with Blog Action Day that re-occurs every year its an excellent event!

    JustinSMV´s last blog post..Top 21 Social Media Super Stars Under 30 In 2008

  9. Kimberly Bock December 15, 2008 at 8:51 am

    You’re welcome. Interesting conversation.

    I agree with Max because I am seeing the intimidation thats felt by our Big boys whod like to make positive changes.

    noone is going to be perfect! Sheesh, I think I have contributed to their being offset by the ideas f change, and I regret that. But I do have an open mind, even MORESO, to companies that have failed us, when I see their willingness to be, as you said, transparent and willing.

    Thanks for a gr8 post.

    Kimberly Bock´s last blog post..Ethics, Transparency, and Talk Is Cheap Around The Web

  10. Make Money Blogging January 12, 2011 at 1:58 am

    The impact that the social media can have and effect on social changes and needs are in fact astonishing. It is indeed in every persons interests to achieve something positive out of the power of social media.
    nice post, good points in all.

  11. Million Candle Power February 27, 2011 at 8:22 am

    Very true indeed. The change is what we need, and the change is what we can get… See the recent developments in Egypt, Libya and Bahrain…

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