Today I have some thoughts for you on using social media to advance the cause of bloggers, companies, and organizations that are fighting hunger.
- Follow Food Shelf Friday on Facebook, Twitter, and/or WordPress. I’m only half joking here. My point is not actually to get you to follow me, but to say that bloggers and non-profits pay attention to their follower counts. If your favorite blogger wants to write a book (not me, your other favorite blogger. Writing a book is not on my horizon yet), prospective publishers WILL be looking at how many social media followers they have. They want to know what size audience comes along with this writer. The same is true for other things your bloggers and orgs want to do, like linkups with other blogs, interviews with well-known people or organizations, or soliciting donations for their cause. So if you appreciate a blogger or organization, follow and like liberally.
- Use social media to make your values known. Note I did not say to “cram your values down everyone’s throat.” There is a difference, and because “cramming” is usually about what you’re against, you may actually be helping what you oppose. What I’m talking about is visiting websites, Google searching terms, or leaving comments that indicate what you value. Trust me, the people at Google and industry insiders know how often someone looks for information on the Kardashians, gluten-free recipes, or fair trade coffee, and as long as they generate buzz they’ll be around. Even people who dislike/mock them get counted, because there is no such thing as bad publicity, as the old saying goes.So there are two things you can do with this information: first, if you dislike something, don’t click on the gossip about it, comment on it, etc. because you’re contributing to the buzz that keeps it around. Save your negative feedback for the real life people you influence. Second, if you do like something, Google it. Lately I’ve been looking for fair trade clothing in women’s plus size, and fair trade tennis shoes that you would actually wear to workout (seriously, if you know of any, leave a comment!). So I Google it, I use it as a search term on Amazon, I look for it on Pinterest, etc. If enough of us are looking, manufacturers will know that there is a market for it and will (hopefully!) step up.
- Use social media to find more things to love. Last week I found an organization that fights hunger here in Minnesota. This led me to see who they were following on Twitter, and suddenly I found a bunch of local organizations and individuals who care about the hungry. I followed some of them, they followed back, and I found myself part of a community of people and organizations that can make a huge difference when we work together. So follow those rabbit trails to find even more inspiration and community.
- Use social media to communicate with companies. I have bought shirts in the past from Sevenly. They make cool tees, and every sale benefits the week’s featured charity. One week they were featuring a charity that provides employment opportunities, and it got me thinking – Sevenly benefits all these organizations, but what about the shirts themselves? Am I contributing to child sweatshop labor in order to give a few dollars to another organization? So I went on Twitter and sent a tweet to Sevenly asking about the shirts themselves. As it turns out, their manufacturing is all fair trade and ethical. I would not have known that without social media, and my tweet allowed others to see this additional good reason to shop Sevenly. Most companies and organizations respond fairly quickly on Twitter, and some will reply to Facebook comments. It’s a lot more productive than waiting on hold for a company representative who may or may not be able to help you.
- Your friends and followers are your audience, what do you want them to see? Share and retweet to help the world’s good things gain a bigger audience!
Additional thoughts on using social media to advance the cause of hunger relief? Share it in the comments!