Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day: The Global Impact of Social Media

This Earth Day, let's pause for a moment to appreciate the global impact of social media. On any given day, I scroll through my various news feeds to see posts from coast to coast in the United States, and from friends and connections around the world in countries like the UK, France, Canada, Mexico and Australia. I have clients in Houston and Hungary and colleagues everywhere in between. Social networks are more than just tools to keep us in touch. They have created a global network of connections - a digital manifestation of the "six degrees" concept.

It can be easy to focus on the negative, but today let's look at some of the amazing things social media is doing for the world:

  • Cause Awareness & Fundraising: Since Earth Day is all about environmental protection, let's first take a look at the impact social media can have on causes. It provides us a platform to talk about causes we're passionate about, gives us a way to contribute, and encourages the viral spread of information and contribution. From small-scale Indiegogo projects to major awareness efforts by organizations like Sea Shepherd, social media gives people a platform to create change.
  • News: Whether you're watching breaking news unfold on Twitter or reading an article posted by a trusted LinkedIn connection, social media has put news in the hands of the people.
  • Personal Connections: Social media allows us to stay in touch with friends, coworkers, acquaintances and others around the world. Taking full advantage of social media's original intent as a networking tool means our networks aren't just social - they're global.
  • Family Reunions: After seeing her mother's plea for help reposted on Reddit and Twitter, a runaway Seattle teen was reunited with her family. Personally, I have several friends who have connected with birth parents and long-lost family members via social media.
  • Health: You may have heard the story of the little girl from Tennessee whose rare eye condition was caught due to a Facebook post. This is just one example of social media's health impact. Whether it's grassroots, like a friend recently posting to ask friends for their favorite natural allergy remedies, or global, like tracking the spread of disease through online posts and searches, social media helps us stay informed and connected on health and medical topics.
  • Positive Stories: From funny cat photos to heartwarming tales of human kindness, social media can make our day with positive, uplifting content we may not otherwise have seen.
These are just a few of the global benefits of social media. What others have you experienced?