Social Media for Social Good Part 1: Examples of Global & Local Initiatives

Lately it feels like social media is being used for just about anything and everything. You constantly hear about new mediums to communicate with people, to share information, to promote businesses and to facilitate educational learning, etcetera etcetera. Well I can assure you that the ever growing world of social media is just that – ever growing.
What makes me excited about this is not the prospect of a never ending stream of new mediums to hunt down a recipe for the perfect cheesecake, stalk you-know-who or even land a dream job. Oh no ladies and gentlemen, what I am excited about is so much better, trust me, for it involves using social media for social good!
Behold readers, a new era is upon us where people, businesses and NPO’s (non-profit organizations) alike are harnessing the power of social media to attain social welfare. The internet is full of such examples, and I have taken it upon myself to compile a detailed list of inspiring global and local initiatives in hopes that maybe, just maybe, this list will inspire you enough to take-up a cause of your own. Part 2 of this blog will explain the best practices of using social media for social welfare, for it’s never too late to do good.
Global social good
Starting with Global Initiatives, it’s worthy to mention the annual Social Good Summit, which has been attracting global leaders for the past 5 years to discuss the impact of new media and technology on social welfare initiatives. This year’s topic, “Connecting for Good, Connecting for All”, revolved around the question “What type of world do I want to live in by the year 2030?” and challenged participants to explore how new media and technology could be used to resolve current and potential problems. Over 60 countries participated in the 2014 summit by organizing meet-ups in their local communities.

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When it comes to global crowd funding, I have found the #GazaStarts campaign to be most encouraging. The campaign’s idea sprang when Gaza Sky Geeks, the first and only startup accelerator company in Gaza, faced a daunting reality after the fighting resumed in 2014, causing GSG to fight for its own survival due to low funding. Thus in November the accelerator launched a worldwide fundraising appeal on Twitter under the hashtag #GazaStarts and was able to raise a total of $123,000 up-to-date. ~ Talk about a successful campaign! Visit https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/save-gaza-s-only-startup-accelerator to track the campaign’s progress and donate yourself!

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As for public services, Check My School – A Public School Evaluation Initiative, hit home. Check My School is a participatory monitoring program in the Philippines that enables users to evaluate public schools. The initiative helps to promote transparency and accountability by using offline and online platforms. The online platform mainly resonated around the initiatives’ website www.checkmyschool.org, which provides information about the schools and enables users to submit reviews and pictures. Twitter and Facebook were used to raise awareness, engagement and to mobilize campaigns. Since 2011, the website has received over 1 million reviews.
Locals do good as well
Moving on to Local Initiatives, it’s worthy to note that for the first time Saudi Arabia joined the 2014 Summit with a “Social Good Summit Meet-up” held in Riyadh where issues relating to new media and youth development were discussed within a national and global context. This is seen as a promising step towards social welfare as Saudi Arabia is considered to be the fastest growing Twitter nation in the world. ~ Unlimited potential exists to the amount of good that can be achieved. Take a look at the following initiatives that took place on our very own KSA social media sphere.
During 2013, the #ومن_أعضائي_حياة  “Be A Donor, Save A Life” campaign was launched by King Abdulaziz University through a collaboration with the Saudi Center for Organ Transplants to raise awareness regarding the importance of organ donation. A spokesperson explained that the number of organ demands drastically exceeds the number of organ donations resulting in a backlog of 16 thousand patients awaiting transplant surgeries in Saudi. Thus the #ومن_أعضائي_حياة  campaign was launched on Twitter to raise awareness, educate people and invite them to sign-up for a Donor Card. The campaign gain over 500 followers on the first day! ~ Why not visit http://www.scot.org.sa/ to sign-up for a Donor Card today?

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Another successful Saudi Twitter campaign was the اضربها# campaign, an anti-domestic violence campaign that took Saudi by storm. Early 2013, the King Khalid Foundation undertook Saudi Arabia’s first anti-domestic violence campaign with graphic and moving images published on traditional media outlets. In response, a group of young people, with the support of Libra Productions, decided to make this campaign viral via a Twitter campaign. People were invited to Tweet images and phrases under the #اضربها hashtag discouraging men from abusing women. ~ This campaign was so successful that it was picked-up by international news agencies, creating a splash inside and outside of the Kingdom!

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As for Facebook campaigns, مسابقة سفراء التآخي , held by The Abjad Center is a good example. The Abjad Center, a day center for girls with special needs, aimed to change the public’s perception and treatment of people with special needs. Thus the center developed a Facebook competition, سفراء التآخي , which engaged followers and invited them to submit creative and innovative solutions to everyday problems faced by special needs people. The competition targeted high school students and received several unique and exciting entries!

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These, dear readers, are but a few examples. I truly hope that you would undertake your own initiative in 2015, and continue to spread this era of social goodness.
Remember to check back for I’ll be posting Part 2 of this blog later on in the month, providing you with insights into the best practices of using social media for social welfare.
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