By: Curtis Billue
Most Kiwanis clubs are built by “pressing the flesh”; shaking hands with people you know and inviting them to a club meeting. So where does social media and technology fall into this? Can social media build the kind of relationships that meeting face to face can? Yes and no. Relationships can be formed, but they will be quite different from personal friendships and affinity bonds.
Many companies see social media as just an extension of marketing efforts to keep people engaged in the brand, which have proven very successful with big companies like Coke and Pringles. These companies spend millions of dollars to keep you “brand loyal”, but in this age where there are so many choices and so much information about the competition, it is getting harder to capture our attention and retain it. Companies will sway our hearts with social media campaigns like Tide’s Loads of Hope (clean clothes in disaster areas), but ultimately, the technology is just a way to get out another message “the company cares, buy our product.” Most people who are fans of what you do, and already use social media, will naturally gravitate toward these channels, but can you get real substance out of social media itself? Can it help change the world instead of talking about it?
I say yes. At the heart of social media is communication, and with today’s cell phones and mobile devices, communication is instant and trackable. Areas of need can be identified quickly, volunteers can be mobilized and directed, whole rescue efforts can be coordinated, and loved ones can be found. This example can be found in Ushahidi-Haiti @ Tufts University, which comprises a group of volunteers using social media to assist with relief efforts in Haiti after the recent devastating earthquake. It’s a great mix or “mashup” of different social media resources used to benefit the aid of a community.
We may not always directly do disaster relief work through our clubs, but there are urgent needs in our community that may be overlooked or identified but not widely communicated. How can we use social media as a tool to solve local problems and get the right people information to help? If you find some unique solutions that use social media or technology to assist your community, then please respond back to us. We would love to hear what you are doing. Here are some sites to get the ideas flowing:
YouTube American Red Cross
Twitter feed of the 1010 project or Create the Good-AARP
The Extraordianaries – micro volunteering
Volunteer Spot- organizing volunteers
Google Maps Mania