Social media is bad.
It’s addictive. It’s divisive. It’s vile.
There’s little truth to be found,
but there’s enough scathing venom to afflict a whole society with full blown anxiety.
We don’t want to be here anymore. It’s making us sick.
Social media is good.
It connects. It teaches. It reflects.
There are friendships to be found,
and communities to be built through genuine human connection.
We gather here often. It brings us joy.
Both depictions are valid, are they not? People experience both these truths while on social media.
There are other places these two truths exist, are there not? People experience both these truths in their homes, towns, and minds.
Perhaps something can be done about it.
Imagine a movement like #socialmediaforgood – where social media professionals spread good though their work.
Social media managers control much of the content consumed by humans online. There’s power in that.
Remember the Why
Why does social media exist in the first place? Asking this question will unveil the foundation for everything else. The “why” has a special ability to accomplish that.
One important “why” for social media is human connection. People want to talk to their friends and family and social media is a great platform for that. Thoughtful discussion helps people grow. Fostering healthy, thoughtful discussion on social media allows for real human connection.
An important human need is self expression. People need to take their thoughts and ideas and make something out of them. Spend 30 minutes on TikTok and see the creativity coming out of humans lately. It’s so unbelievably impressive and highlights this important “why” for the existence of social media.
People also have a need to learn. Social media is a place for information exchange. People share and consume photos, videos, and written words and learn learn learn from the content consumed. People can learn new skills from social media. They can learn about history, current events, and happenings in the lives of real people around them.
Sometimes people just need to laugh. Sometimes people need to be inspired. Social media content can accomplish this and much more. Entertainment is an obvious “why” for social media. People need to have a space to relax, recharge, and be entertained – social media is a great spot for this.
Before entering a social media platform, people can take a moment and a breath and bring themselves back to the “whys” of social media. People can tell themselves, “Remember, social media is a place to connect, express, learn, and be entertained,” then they can intentionally enter the platforms with a focus on “why” they came there in the first place. SprySpace Podcast: Learn more about social media “whys” here.
What is ‘Good’?
If social media managers are going to collectively work towards #socialmediaforgood, they need a clear definition of what “good” means.
Good social media should:
- Connect people
- Promote diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Encourage strong listening
- Inspire positive action
- Be truthful
- Inspire balanced use of devices
How Does Social Media Go Wrong?
Brands aren’t perfect, so mistakes are often made. Below are some of the big mistakes brands can make while trying to do social media right.
Weak Core Values
Core values drive everything for brands. Without strong core values, social media presence will become fragmented and it will be difficult for people to create a genuine connection with the brand.
Sometimes brands focus too much on sales and numbers and forget that human beings will be consuming the content. (Remember the “why” of human connection and this won’t be forgotten again.) Social media managers can ask themselves, is this content piece inherently valuable? Does it provide information, entertainment, and/or opportunities for connection? If not, rethink it. Crap content will make social media efforts ineffective very quickly.
Lack of Presence Management
Before, after, and in between posting social media content, brands need to be present on platforms to listen to their followers, respond to comments, and engage in conversations on other pieces of content. Remember, social media is a tool for authentic communication, not linear communication. It’s less about the content piece itself, and more about the conversations happening around the content. Inspire conversation and be part of conversation across the platform. Without engaging in this behavior, social media success will be stunted.
Lack of Community Guidelines
Choose a few rules for your brand’s social media channels and post them visibly for people to see. Create rules about how people can respond to posts or how people can treat each other in the comments section. Without strong guidelines, time is wasted deciding how to deal with people and situations over and over and over again.
Social Media for Good in Action
Many brands and organizations are doing an amazing job using #socialmediaforgood. One group doing this impeccably is FBG Milwaukie Chit Chat, run by Amy Erdt. The group has over 7,000 members and is a social media respite where people can find productive, helpful conversations that turn into material support and actual friendships in real life.
Amy says, “We don’t avoid difficult subjects in our group, we tend to dive right in! Just because it’s uncomfortable doesn’t mean that it’s unhealthy.”
She accomplishes having difficult conversations by leaning hard into her community guidelines.
“We use DBT Core principles. 1) Core mindfulness – which is being able to observe your own thoughts and feelings, 2) Interpersonal effectiveness – how effective are you at communicating and your stress tolerance, and 3) Emotional regulation.“
Social media managers can learn from Amy and explore their own behaviors to work more towards making social media a healthy place to build online communities. Social media managers have power to change the platform and how people engage with it. Learn about #socialmediaforgood, and start taking positive steps in every corner of the internet.