With Great Social Media Power Comes Great Responsibility

Give(This story has been updated with a newer idea here: A Plan for Social Media Sites (and users) to Give Back)

Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Slashdot, Newsvine, NowPublic, Yahoo! Buzz.  Between these seven sites, traffic to a particular website can easily exceed 100,000, potentially much higher.

With so much power to drive people to various websites across the Internet, why are none of them greatly involved with charity?  I’m not talking about donating – I’m sure that the companies or their executives donate.  I’m talking about making a difference.  I’m talking about using their power to drive traffic and applying it to charity websites.

The reason that they don’t is that they (other than Slashdot) are strictly driven by the actions, likes, and intentions of the users.  You could argue that there is a human hand or two manipulating the system from time to time, but that’s an entirely different post.

Would it be wrong or unjustified to use the server-busting power of their front pages for an occasional bit of  philanthropy?  It wouldn’t be hard to do at all.  There would be those who would cry out “don’t preach to me” or “keep your humanity to yourself” but for the most part, I believe the communities would embrace it.  Who knows – they might just learn something from time to time that has more substance than lolcats and bacon.

Digg could very easily create a category for charity.  They could hire a handful of people to moderate the category more closely than others to keep the spam to a minimum.  The threshold could be lowered a bit (if necessary, though it probably wouldn’t be) to get a story or two a day on the front page.

As with all categories, if a user doesn’t want “charity shoved down their throat” they can always turn the category off completely.

Reddit could adopt a different type of charitable technique.  By making a charity subreddit that was featured as one of the  primary selections on the front page and making it a default, the subreddit would grow quickly.  No need for moderators – the community self-moderates well.

Even better, they can integrate their technology into a new site dedicated to charity, activism, and philanthropy.

Slashdot is clearly more tech-niche-oriented, but their control of the front page is a perfect way to make sure that tech-related stories involving charities (there are plenty) received attention from time to time.

Newsvine and NowPublic have strong communities that really pays more attention to original stories written on the websites by the users than most of the links posted there.  It would take the users themselves, especially the “powerful” ones, to take more of a stand and write about charities (then link to them, of course).  Still, the sites can help promote it through special sections dedicated strictly to charity and posted on the front page.

Yahoo! Buzz – still a tough one to understand from a traffic perspective, but potentially the most powerful of them all.  As with Slashdot, the super-popular stories are hand-picked, so squeezing in a story or two every now and then for the sake of righteousness would be a piece of cake.

StumbleUpon already has a way to implement charity into their system.  They have an advertising platform that allows people to buy Stumbles for a nickel.  Why not open that up and allow some charities to join in?  They could easily send a conservative 500-1000 people a day to a page with a 5 cent discount given to charities.  My math is spotty at best, but I believe that comes to a total cost of none, both for the charity and for StumbleUpon.  If it does well, the charities can always purchase more than their low daily quota.

Regardless of what they do, it is important and practical that they do something.  Times are tough for many.  Charitable giving is naturally down as a result.  With the power that they wield, it just makes sense that they should use just a small bit of that power to help make the world better.

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For more social media opinions, visit Social News Watch often.

JD Rucker

+JD Rucker is Editor at Soshable, a Social Media Marketing Blog. He is a Christian, a husband, a father, and founder of Dealer Authority. He drinks a lot of coffee, usually in the form of a 5-shot espresso over ice. Find him on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

10 thoughts on “With Great Social Media Power Comes Great Responsibility

  1. This really is a great article. I mean, people like myself who frequently submit articles to various social media sites, do have the ability to direct thousands and thousands of internet users to a page we want them to see.

    There really should be more people who submit stuff that they are completely passionate about, and can also help raise awareness of certain issues that touch them to the core.

    For me, the issue that I am very passionate about, is anything related to Brain Injuries & Alzheimer’s Disease, as this is something I deal with on a daily basis. As a result of this article, I will pledge to make more of an effort to submit articles that raise awareness about these issues.

    Thanks JD.

  2. Thanks a ton, Jeff! You know, the true power of social media that didn’t come across properly in the article is in the awareness factor. I’m not recommending that social media sites should put donation pages on their front pages, but interesting stories that point out the information that thousands of people can use is where the real power lies.

  3. I agree.

    Did you catch the fundraiser we did last December with XKCD? http://blog.reddit.com/2008/01/reddit-xkcd-fundraiser-pulls-in-3k-for.html

    I happen to be quite interested in the non-profit world, so I’m anxious to work with our top submitter to grow our nonprofit reddit, which will soon be known as WorldSaversUnite.com – A little tongue and cheek hyperbole never hurt anyone, heh.

    But for now it’s http://www.reddit.com/r/nonprofit/

  4. I have been meddling around on twitter, reddit and other social media for quite some time and as a marketing student I am always looking to expand my resources.

    This year I started a new program with my local Hospice that I volunteer with to give gifts to families with young children affected by terminal illness.

    I really think raising micro donations of $10 can really make a difference.

    Take a look at the website: http://www.givethegiftofgiving.ca

    So how do you think I could help make my charity really take off online?

    Thanks
    Daniel

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  6. fantastic ideal…hatss off…people should contritute to social fonts as well as most of the people use sociaal media for timepas,promotion etc…it can awaken many for helping and for contibuting in social cause..super like…thanks…!!1

  7. Great ideas. I think I could contribute to sending charity articles to these sites.This really is a great article. I mean, people like myself who frequently submit articles to various social media sites, do have the ability to direct thousands and thousands of internet users to a page we want them to see.

  8. This really is a great article. I mean, people like myself who frequently submit articles to various social media sites, do have the ability to direct thousands and thousands of internet users to a page we want them to see.

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