The Inconvenient Truth of Social Media
Posted by Allison Fine on November 4, 2009
I saw a tweet today that was terrific. It was from Trevor Neilson of the Global Philanthropy Group and it read, “The inconvenient truth of social media and philanthropy is that awareness does not equal impact.”
It’s true, awareness is not the same as impact, but it never has been on land either. The question that we have yet to fully wrestle with as to what all of the clicking and friending adds up to, if anything, for social change efforts. We know that social media are very effective tools for connecting people to one another and helping them to build relationships. Social media do this between people and between people and organizations.
It is between these nodes in a network (to be super geeky) that people learn about issues and organizations. A friend asks a friend to join their Cause on Facebook. Someone’s cousin sends out a link to a video about an issue. A trusted source for news, a blogger or journalist, posts a story with a link to an organization. Awareness has been raised and we’re on the road to action, but not quite there yet.
Of course, not everyone who is aware of an issue will take an action. But a small percentage will donate, raise money, attend a rally or a protest. This happens when connections turn into social capital. Social capital that develops between people, or people and organizations, that enables one to ask another for help. We respond to these pleas because we trust these folks, we like helping it makes us feel good and we know that if we need help in the future, we believe that they’ll be there with us.
The challenge to nonprofit organizations is to expand their thinking beyond hits, clicks, and friends and start to think about, and measure, whether and how they are building social capital and how this is turning into action.
Thanks, Trevor, for getting me thinking about this!
This entry was posted on November 4, 2009 at 1:41 pm and is filed under Social Media. Tagged: Trevor Nielson. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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