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Social Media for Social Good

January 28, 2011 - 8 Comments

Collaboratively written by Charlie Treadwell and Sushant Sahani as a summary of the Social Media Club – Silicon Valley chapter’s inaugural event titled Social Media for Social Good.

With no shortage of events for marketing professionals to speak about social media, ROI, lead generation and corporate adoption, we thought it would be great to share our experience participating in an event from the opposite side of the spectrum. At PayPal last night, the inaugural meeting of the Social Media Club – Silicon Valley chapter focused on Social Media for Social good. The panel consisted of:

  • Louis Gray, vice president of marketing at My6Sense, and a well-known commentator on social media tools and trends, will moderate a top-notch panel including:
  • Colt Briner, vice president and general manager of Democrasoft and co-creator of Collaborize Classroom. Colt Briner has been working to create technology for a better society since 2003.  He also volunteers his time as a director at the Virtual Country Foundation, a California-based nonprofit exploring ways to use technology to improve democratic participation in businesses.
  • Chris Wilder, executive director of the Valley Medical Center Foundation. Chris is an avid social media user who regularly blogs in support of the foundation’s important work on behalf of Santa Clara County’s largest public hospital.
  • Stephanie Woehrmann, actress, press director, teacher, social media aficionado for El Teatro Campesino. Resident Musical Director of El Teatro Campesino since 2006, she has produced, written and composed many musicals, plays and actos for El Teatro Campesino.
  • Judy Chang, Senior Manager of Vertical Markets for PayPal.
  • Charlie Treadwell is Corporate Affairs Marketing manager in Cisco’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program.

A diverse group of panelists shared their ideas on how to leverage social media for creating sense of community within their local areas, for increasing awareness about social issues, and for fundraising during disasters, etc. The power of social media was evident as the panelists shared several examples, including:

  • A manager from a local community hospital mentioned that he was able to keep his hospital afloat by reaching out to local community through social media channels.
  • PayPal shared the effectiveness of social media channel for collecting donations during disaster relief projects.
  • In 2008, the top 60 individuals and 400 foundations donated only 11%, or $33 billion dollars, while everyone else gave $275 billion in smaller amounts.

Figures drawn from the Foundation Center's Foundation Directory Online.

Charlie Treadwell, of Cisco, added a unique perspective by providing thought leadership on the role of social media in today’s Corporate Social Responsibility.

“What’s good for our community is also good for our business.”
– Charlie Treadwell

Some of the tools that resonated with the group were:

  • Grameen Foundation’s MoTeCH Program using test messaging subscriptions to inform pregnant mothers in Ghana of important antenatal and neonatal information.
  • Ushahini’s mashup of SMS and Google maps to to report violent acts against citizens in Kenya during a disputed election.
  • – a free service that creates a mobile community website in just minutes and comes with it’s own QR code to instantly connect with users through smartphone technology.

The entire event was streamed and recorded on uStream. View a recording here.

Please join the conversation about using social media for social good and share your ideas, comments or insights.


Charlie and Sushant

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  1. Google’s CEO on Social Media for Social Good : —

    “Mr. Ghonim’s social-media expertise was credited with helping trigger the protests, an example that Mr. Schmidt said pointed toward a future in which technology will benefit the masses, rather than society’s elite classes.”

  2. Social media definitely has the potential to do a lot in many communities.
    thanks for your post.

  3. @B Hohepa you make an excellent point there and think in the long term the search engine concept will be fully and inseparable merged with the social media.

  4. Another interesting discussion is the difference between monetizing social media for social purposes over commercial.

    There’s been a lot of talk about Twitter trying to create a revenue stream and even Facebook as big as it is has still got a long way to go in respects to monetization.

    But the interesting difference between social media and search engines is what the user is actually doing on the site. You can see this in the fact that the biggest success story on Facebook is a gaming company.

    So maybe providing a social media/philanthropic mix is a better way to monetize these sites. Obviously not for commercial gain but i’m speaking from getting the most out of these platforms.

    It would make sense in one way for a charity to buy stock in these platforms if that was the case. Not withstanding these ridiculous market speculation prices that IT stocks are known for.

  5. Very prestigious panel there. Social media definitely has the potential and leverage to do a lot of good in many communities. When used positively social media is very powerful!

  6. i was just about to post do you have a full length video to it but it’s posted near the bottom. Thanks very much

  7. I think using social media for social good is the exact thing that allows this web 2.0 infrastructure to work so well. The reason that social media is so useful for social good is that it is so accessible to everyone. Anyone in an area can use a site like facebook or twitter to spread their word and market their cause and I’ve seen a lot of small grass roots organizations in my area get started through a few socially affluent people liking someone’s fan page.

  8. It seems very important to take into account these issues really did not know that there were groups for this purpose but now that I think are vital to the development of technology and create awareness on various issues happening in our environment today to day, perhaps with more advertising may be created even stronger the idea. I’m in dispocision to help and I hope everything goes well on the north.

    Leonardo Avila
    Linksys by Cisco, Costa Rica