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Four Social Good Trends of 2009

Posted on 05 Jan 10

If you don’t know about Mashable, you may want to check it out as a source for finding out what is going on in social media. Mashable is the world’s largest blog focused exclusively on Web 2.0 and Social Media news, publishing breaking news on what’s new on the web and offering social media resources and guides. Mashable’s audience includes early adopters, social media enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, influencers, brands and corporations, marketing, PR and advertising agencies, Web 2.0 aficionados and technology journalists. Mashable is also popular with bloggers, Twitter and Facebook users — an increasingly influential demographic.

Here we’ve reproduced an article recently featured in Mashable regarding social media trends.

1. Charitable Philanthropy

During the past year, the manner in which non-profits, activists, and consumers have used social media has changed the face of philanthropy. People are able to participate in charitable giving on a much more grass roots level. Through different online platforms, donors can identify with individuals, rather than just organizations.

J.D. Lasica, founder of the social change learning hub, says the model of one-to-one giving has enormous power and will continue to expand.

“Studies have shown that people are more willing to give when they see and hear an individual’s story versus an organization’s goal,” said Lasica. “Social media makes things personal. You can have your name put on the outside of a school being built in Vietnam after donating money for a child there who needs an education.”

Taking after the ever-growing microfinance format of, a number of blogger-supported online charity campaigns have gained significant traction in 2009. The web site is one of them. The charity platform provides a space for public school teachers across America to post requests for their classroom needs (pencils, books, microscopes, etc.). Participants can donate any amount of money they choose. Every fall, the organization wrangles bloggers to support and write about the campaign and help teachers raise funds.

In the same spirit of citizen philanthropy, America’s Giving Challenge is the gift that keeps on giving. Presented by the Case Foundation, AGC holds a competition for individuals and non-profit groups to use their social networks to rally supporters. The infrastructure allows people to describe their causes and state their cases in their own words.

2. The Rise of Social Action Video

More than a decade after its inception, on-line video has taken center stage in new media. The 45-minute buffering sessions and two-by-two media players of the late ‘90s are now distant memories. It only makes sense that with the development and popularity of high-quality online video, the prevalence of social change video has also increased. Initiatives such as the non-profit network Causecast, the anti-war movement Invisible Children, and the consumer-powered activism campaign Carrotmob are just a few humanitarian forces attracting supporters through the power of compelling online video storytelling.

Smaller socially conscious video networks are also surfacing with widespread run-and-gun flip cam usage among journalists and bloggers. The San Francisco-based web site features one-on-one interviews with social entrepreneurs, non-profit leaders, and triple-bottom line businesses. More grass roots enterprises of this nature will likely arise in 2010.

3. Micro-Activism via Mobile Apps

“There should be an app for that” has been a popular slogan of 2009, and with good reason. The past year has seen the emergence of smart phone applications for everything from digitally hailing a taxicab, to location-based flirting and dating. It was only a matter of time before social innovators would jump on the mobile app bandwagon and find ways for consumers to contribute to causes with the touch of a few buttons.

The Extraordinaries mobile application allows users to execute tasks for organizations and causes in a matter of minutes. The philosophy behind The Extraordinaries’ creation is that we all don’t have time to dedicate a day of manual labor or fundraising for people and issues we care about, but we do have spare moments.

According to the company web site, The Extraordinaries makes it possible for people to:

- Translate an organization’s web site into a foreign language

- Record locations of potholes for municipalities

- Identify birds for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

- Review congressional bills for hidden pork

- Fact check for reporters

- And many more projects

A more narrowly focused socially responsible mobile app that recently launched is Citysourced, a real-time civic engagement tool that enables citizens to report sightings of potholes, graffiti, trash, and other potential hazards directly to their city hall. A throwback of sorts to neighborhood watch programs, Citysourced makes it possible for everyday citizens to keep the best interest of their communities intact.

The new website and iPhone application Goodguide empowers consumers to make informed purchasing decisions that impact people and the planet. By entering a product’s name, or scanning the barcode of an item using the app, customers can learn about the health, environmental, and social effects of their purchases. Goodguide is a certified B Corporation, a new kind of enterprise that uses business to instigate positive social and ecological change. The Extraordinaries is currently seeking B Corporation status, as well.

4. Transparency, Cause Marketing & Real-Time Search

The amount of corporate and brand information made available to the public through social media is growing exponentially. Because of this trend, businesses are making it a point to implement cause marketing for social good, in addition to being transparent when disclosing their business practices.

David Levy, co-founder of the online brand and consumer connector SocialVibe, says the easiest way for brands to relate to consumers is through a common cause. “Consumers control the content today, so it’s important for brands to establish themselves as good corporate citizens,” said Levy. “2009 saw brands coming up with campaigns to reach people in social media, and campaigns began to focus on what consumers care about, not just what’s important to the brands.”

This kind of branding strategy is exemplified in the recent Bank of America cause marketing campaign promoting Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Bank of America is encouraging people to “think pink” through co-branded banking cards. For each new Susan G. Komen B of A card opened and used, a certain of amount of money is allocated to the Komen organization.

2009’s biggest and most important social tool affecting cause marketing is Google’s real-time search feature. Google has only recently begun showing real-time results by aggregating Twitter updates, Facebook postings, blogs, new articles, videos, and other online sources of information. If all goes according to plan, the search option will continue to roll out, making it impossible for companies to have any secrets.

Levy says, “real-time search will lead to better cause marketing, which will turn entire operations into better global citizens.”

“Now that everyone is going to see what others are saying about companies, it’s critical for brands to be talked about in a positive way,” says Levy. “This is going to help causes.” What other social good trends have you spotted in 2009? Share your favorite causes in the comments.