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Is it time to take back social media for good?

This guest blog post from Vinay Nair of Lightful, looks at how we can reverse the trend of negative social media.

Hands up if you remember when social media wasn't the vestige of all that was evil, a political battleground where people struggle to have meaningful engagement and just a bit of fun? Social media has become negative and we believe it's time to take back social media for social good.

Recently, former Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya hit the front page of the Daily Mail stating that Facebook is 'ripping society apart'. He shone an insider spotlight on the social network, which has evolved in a way that we no longer have to double-click an explanation of the word 'pernicious'.

But it wasn't always like this. Mark Zuckerberg's pre-IPO letter was a 2,000-word tome at pains to emphasise that Facebook was on a "social mission" rather than building a monolithic empire. At the time, he risked adversely impacting the share price but it sounded like he spoke from the heart. So when Palihapitiya claimed that Facebook's evolution has been "unintentional", there may be some truth there. However, looking at what Facebook has evolved to, what would it take for us to reclaim Facebook and all of social media – for good?

Our sector has authentic stories to tell – an abundance of them, in fact. Charities, social enterprises and a growing band of 'beyond profit organisations' are using social media for social good.

The recent petition on to "end tax havens now" has received 1,150,553 signatures to-date, with people sharing news of their co-signatories on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networks. People want change and they want people to join them.

To counteract the commercialism of #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday, the #GivingTuesday movement is making waves. $274 million was raised online in 24 hours from over 2 million donations from 150 countries. Is that not one of the best examples of social media for good?

And it isn't just the big, household name organisations channelling these social opportunities. Small charities often have the best stories to tell because they are closer to their beneficiaries and work at a local level, but often they lack the tools to help them to do so. Climate Reality, a small organisation with just one person in communications, created their own bot on Facebook to serve as an inspiring example for more charities to try it out. They set a simple goal to get people to sign up to their action alerts and they had an 80% conversion rate.

"Civil discourse and cooperation" aren't "totally missing", as Palihapitiya claims, but they are drowned out because there is so much noise on social media. And so, now it is our job to amplify the voices of good causes and share good news stories – whether that be friends raising money for causes they care about or loved ones they wish to support or organisations working to make the world a better place.

So, if you're tired of the negativity on social media, reclaim it – for good! On 6th of February we're taking back social media for good with #ReclaimSocial. Help us create a movement and a force for good by joining our Thunderclap.

Vinay Nair runs Lightful, a social media and content management platform built for charities and social enterprises. Lightful are running webinars for Online Centres on 22 Feb around improving your social engagement which you can sign up for here. 


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