Content That Does Good

By: Madelyn Dwyer

There seems to be a lot of recent discussion about the negative effects that can come from social media. Shining light on this issue is important; however, it is equally important to examine how social media can be a force for good.

Social media gives people from all corners of the globe the ability to connect and share information rapidly. It is an accessible platform that encourages diverse storytelling and communication, which can yield positive outcomes.

For example, social media can improve safety measures. Many police stations now have Twitter profiles where they inform the community of dangerous conditions and criminal activity. The Eugene Police uses social media in this way on its page @EugenePolice. It also has a secondary profile called @EPDCrimePrevent, focused on providing “proven crime prevention strategies… to reduce crime and promote safety.”

Tweets from the Eugene Police.

Social media also enables people to communicate in times of crisis. For example, Facebook has a feature designed for use during disasters. Users can mark themselves as safe and ask friends if they are safe. This has the potential to aid search efforts and provide relief to concerned loved ones.

Likewise, social media is an excellent platform for building awareness around important causes–ranging from environmental, health, humanitarian, political and more. Many organizations with an advocacy focus use social media to expand their reach. Influencers who are passionate about certain issues also often do this.

For example, Amelia Whelan of @SaltSandAndSmoothies often posts content about preserving the health of the ocean. In April of 2018, a series of photos of her sitting on a beach littered with plastic garbage went viral on Facebook–bringing in over 700,000 shares and 2.7 million views in less than 24 hours. She later shared that she received an inbox full of messages asking her “What should we do? How can I help?” Her content successfully cultivated genuine interest and concern for a critical issue.

Moreover, social media is a new type of space to connect and build relationships. Everyone has their own unique interests, yet it isn’t always easy to find people in your local vicinity who share them. Social media unites people of these niche interests and gives them a place to interact. Personally, I am vegan and I only know a handful of vegans in real life. However, I am a part of a few vegan groups on social media and I really value them because they remind me of my values and give me a sense of community I might not otherwise have. (Kind of like the Adult Fans of Legos.) This goes for all interests–if you want, there are many opportunities to connect with like-minded individuals online.

As digital storytellers, strategists and general social media users, we have a responsibility to consider the consequences of our content. While social media doesn’t always have positive effects, it is important not to undermine its potential to do good. From spreading important information, to advocating for issues, to inspiring and building community, we have the ability to define how we personally want to use social media. When we choose to be thoughtful, transparent and authentic with the messages we spread, we inevitably create positive ripple effects.


Twitter: @dwyermad

Instagram: @_maddydwyer


This Article Has 15 Comments
  1. Carolyn Riesinger says:

    Hi Madelyn,
    I’m so glad you wrote about this! I think social media often gets a bad reputation, especially from older people, because they may not understand the benefits that can come from it. I use social media as a way to get breaking news stories and to learn about things that are happening around me in real time. I understand that it can be used for negative things but I think that if we are aware of that, the good can outweigh the bad.

  2. Abby Wolff says:

    Hi Madelyn,

    I really enjoyed your post about the good that social media can do. Even though it can be discouraging at times, social media can serve as a source of inspiration is many senses and can affect a large number of people. The success of certain awareness campaigns and people sharing inspiring stories can be so powerful and impact people in a positive way.

  3. Sophia Ferrer says:

    Madelyn,
    Your take on social media as an act of good was a refreshing read. We see more and more commentary daily about how social media is negatively affecting one’s quality of life but your outlook and examples shared, I think that there’s simply a lack of awareness of the good that is taking place through social media. As for myself, I never knew the Eugene police had social media accounts, it’s nice to see that they are actively informing the community of incidents taking place around us. Great post!

  4. Bella Barilati says:

    Hi Madelyn,

    I appreciate that you showed the positive sides of social media in your blog posts. I feel as if when we think of social media, we think of the negative effects and forget about all of the beneficial aspects of it. Learning and experiencing real-world PR, we know it is a necessary tool to succeed for most campaigns. It is a significant way to communicate with your audience. I think society blames the platform when in reality, sadly, it can be the users on it that are causing the negativity. I see nasty comments often on social media that are not needed. The platforms aren’t saying the mean things, it gives the world an opportunity to take advantage of being behind a screen, but it is not the website or the applications fault.

    Thanks for the positive read!
    Thanks,
    Bella

    Twitter: @bellabarilati

  5. Elli Meinert says:

    Hi Madelyn,

    I appreciate your take on social media in a positive light. I completely agree with you that even though many people have negative comments about social media, it does in fact provide the world with positive outcomes. I love how you discussed police stations’ use of social media and the various safety measures it provides. It’s nice to see communities are using social media for more than just pure entertainment. Seeing people use social media to help the world around them is inspiring and I hope they continue to take advantage of its large reach and impact.

  6. Isabelle Shattuck says:

    Hi Madelyn! I really enjoyed reading your blog post as it shined such a positive light on social media. I think that social media often has very negative stigma towards accounts and users, but when accounts like the Eugene police or communities like vegans are present and active on social media helps to remind individuals why social media was essentially started. Social media platforms are so much more than just a place to gossip or post about your day to day life. These platforms really do help keep committees involved and give people a sense of belonging in their own specific committees.

  7. Rui Sun says:

    Hi Madelyn,
    As you said in your post, people think there are lots of negative effects in social media. It is easy to be used because social media has a huge influence. There is speculation that social media is becoming perceived as a trustworthy source of information by a large number of people. The continuous interpersonal connectivity on social media has led to people regarding peer recommendations as a reliable source of information. However, this trust can be exploited by marketers, who can utilize consumer-created content about brands and products to influence public perceptions. Although, there are many opinions about social media, there is no doubt that social media has made a huge contribution to the social development.

  8. Lexi Naone says:

    Madelyn, thanks for sharing! I thought was was a great post that highlighted one of the many positive sides to social media. People of older generations often think that social media is bad and nothing good comes from it, but accounts like @SaltSandAndSmoothies talking about the negative in the world and receiving feedback from followers asking how they can help is important to look at. I love how you also addressed police departments using social media to keep their communities informed and safe. Great read and thank you for sharing!

  9. Kaytlyn Lozano says:

    Hi Madelyn,

    I really loved your references to the Eugene PD tweets in regards to safety. When we had that terrible streak of robbers in Eugene a couple terms ago, it was really useful to see on social media, whether that be through UOPD, Eugene PD, or fellow users, of updated times on when people were getting robbed, I knew which streets to avoid and what times these occurred at to make sure I was home by that hour or did not walk alone. Excellent post!

  10. Rylee Marron says:

    Madelyn, you bring up some great points and I think the Eugene PD was great examples. Sometimes the safety tweets can go wrong, however. In rare occasions of course, but a couple of weeks ago my undergraduate school, Utah State University, accidentally sent out a “code blue” aka message to students and on social media saying there was a threat on campus and for everyone to take cover. As you can imagine, it was horrible and the campus went crazy. They sent a follow up 8 minutes later saying it was an accident. But seriously, can you imagine being one of those students or professors thinking your school was about to be a part of a school shooting? So scary!

  11. Carly Grossman says:

    Hi Madelyn, I really enjoyed reading your article. There are definitely many negative sides to social media, so it was really nice and refreshing to come across content that does good. When people think of social media, they usually think of the negative things about it, when social media has the power to really do some good in the world. Although there are social media accounts that talk about negative things happening around the world, there are many social media accounts that do the opposite and really highlight the good and positive happening around the world. Thanks for sharing!

  12. Kierstyn Yardley says:

    Hi Madelyn,

    I really enjoyed reading this post! I agree that social media can be used for good content and not just negative content. I do notice a lot of negative content on social media, but I do see the good as well. I really enjoyed how you used the Eugene Police Department as an example because that shows how you can use social media for good content. I also agree with the fact that you can build relationships on social media. An example of what I see a lot is celebrities commenting back to their fans or companies building good relationships by replying to costumers, who comment negatively about their products.

  13. Austin Banks says:

    Hi Madelyn,

    I totally agree with your post I believe that social media can be used for good content. While social media can be poor negative content it can also be very beneficial and informational for people as seen with local police departments and fire departments. When I think of social media doing good I think of EWEB’s social media being incredibly beneficial when the power went out during the snow storm. They were able to help people without power by communicating with them through social media.

  14. Bodie Crist says:

    Hey Madelyn!

    I was really excited to read your post and get your perspective on this! As a member of the Advertising and Brand Responsibility cohort, we talk a lot about the different ways that brands can be responsible and do some social good with the large platforms they have available. I think it’s interesting to talk about how brands can be responsible and create relationships with their consumers by using social media in this way.

  15. Yichi Zhang says:

    Hi Madelyn!

    Exactly! Social media can bring our positive energy. If brands or other social institutions want to take social responsibilities, then they need to show the public that they do care about social issues. Through these two terms what I have learned three important elements for brands to take social responsibilities: authenticity, courage, and commitment to social goods. Same as online promotion, create positive influences, then audience will know you are trustworthy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *