Creating Social Impact Through Social Media

07-09-2011 TraceyThere is a big difference between doing social good and being socially good. To put it simply, it's the difference between stroking a check for a cause and being part of the cause. As a local business it's important that the local community is better off because you are part of it.

I know there are some businesses that push back against that idea by saying, "I'm in business to make money, I don't run a non-profit." To them I'd like to point out the study that the Edelman PR Group did where they found that 87% of global consumers believe that a business should place at least as much weight on the interest of society as they do on their interest of business. In fact, I wrote a post about that exact study called Social Purpose - Why It Matters To your Companies Bottom Line.

So, how exactly does a business go about creating a social impact? First, instead of writing a check and sending it over to a charity, ask them how your business can be part of the solution. Better than that? Find a need that you're passionate about, maybe it's homelessness or childhood obesity, education or foster care. Whatever it is, make sure that it's a real passion, something that the people of your business can get behind, something they are as passionate about as you are.

From there, set a goal such as raising enough money to open a local community center for the homeless where they can go to learn skills and be in community with each other. Or, set a goal to provide new computer labs in two area schools per year. Once your goals are set put actions into place that will allow you to reach those goals.

With social networks like Facebook and Google +, Twitter and YouTube we are all a lot closer than we used to be. We have ways to converse with one another in almost real time, which is why you should consider using your business Page on Facebook as your center of communications for your cause.

This allows people to find out what is going on easily while at the same time increasing the number of likes and the amount of engagement you receive. By doing it this way you are assured of increased exposure while at the same time increasing the awareness of your cause.

Last year I was privileged to be part of a community outreach program where the business put up $5,000 to be donated to an area school. We set it up as a contest between schools with each week bringing with it a new challenge. Each challenge had a first place winner as well as a second and a third, each one assigned a point value. At the end of the 6 weeks the school with the most points won the $5,000.

Each challenge involved showing pride for their school and their local community with pictures, essays and videos posted to Facebook and voted on by members of the community. At one point there was over nineteen thousand canned goods collected and donated to a local food bank, the winning school donating just over six thousand canned goods!

Besides the business receiving massive amounts of media attention with other businesses also donating money and computers to the cause, the community was better off because of it. Parents were frequenting the business (it was a car dealership) while their children were learning valuable life lessons about helping others and standing up for what they believed in. That's just one story of a business profiting from being socially good. How are you?

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