One area that non-profits, social entrepreneurs, and social change agents have great trouble understanding is the full impact of using social media. Many consultants often promote a basic "you-gotta-be-on-this-channel" mentality, but rarely understand the impact on organizations, businesses, and individuals. Thankfully, Social Media Week - a global initiative that works towards explaining social, cultural and economic impact of social media - will be held in Chicago from September 23rd to 27th.
Social Media Week's mission is (according to their web site) is to help people and organizations connect through collaboration, learning and the sharing of ideas and information. It's more than just the usual chatter - this is a gathering that helps drive the idea of how social media impacts the social good. Although many of the sessions may have a business focus, the week-long conference (held at a variety of sites and locations) features sessions specifically geared towards social good initiatives.
Social media is a very popular topic, with organizations struggling to deal with adopting the channel as a way to foster their online networking. Mission-driven online marketing drives plenty of content, with consultants discussing how to use social media to drive conversation, build "brand awareness" for a non-profit, and cultivate donors and board members. However, one of the key aspects of social media that gets lost in that conversation is its power to drive collaboration, foster a sense of community, and empower people to take positive action.
One of the buzzwords in social media marketing is engagement - focusing more on how people behave online versus simply counting the number of "likes" or "followers". Engagement involves reaching people on both an emotional and intellectual level, and influencing them to behave in a particular way. (Influence is also another major buzzword). Social Media Week is an opportunity to learn how strategies to engage and influence offline behavior have a greater impact on social and political structures - in short, it's more than just simply a cool marketing channel; it's a gateway to drive social good.
And it's also free. So please check out http://www.socialmedia.org for more details. And no, I was not reimbursed nor am I receiving any benefits from this post....other than making a great resource available to people.
And as always, thanks for reading!