Sunday, October 19, 2008

Encouraging Community Action through Social Media

I was reading earlier today about a social initiative which is being run through Twitter. The initiative, which is linked to this post, is attempting to achieve its goal of providing between 200 and 1200 cups of coffee to participants in the Austin Texas Heart Walk through Twitter. I found this premise fascinating; instead of attempting to achieve a particular goal within a local, physical community, why not present the problem to a far greater electronic community. Clearly, the greater the number of information recipients, the greater the likelihood that a collective solution will be achieved.

Herein lies one of the greatest benefits of the social media. As the communities constructed are ever increasing in size, the potential reach of content placed therein is similarly extended. These extensive networks represent a fantastic collaborative resource from which to mould a solution to a given problem. As in the case described above, not-for-profit ventures can convey their message to the community, identifying their targets accordingly. These goals are far more likely to be achieved collectively than through the efforts of a single event organiser. For-profit organisations can leverage these networks to achieve similar outcomes. Clearly, the theory of Network Effects as identified by Metcalfe still holds value within the Age of Social Media.

Organisations that recognise the value of the network will be the organisations that succeed in an environment driven by social media. This is not a new premise; as mentioned above, Metcalfe identified that the value of a network was proportionate to the square of the number of users therein back in the 1990's. Organisations must create powerful social networks and leverage the capabilities afforded thereby to achieve success. Collaborative goals are achieved far easier than goals tackled individually.

It will be interesting to see whether or not the initiative above collaboratively achieves its goal by leveraging the network effects of Twitter.

read more digg story

Show the Rogue some Stumble love


  1. Great post. I just wrote about social media impacting poverty for Blog Action Day 2008.

    More NPOs need to start getting involved. There's a lot of people ready to help out on the web--just take a look at Kiva. The key will be implementing the social media tools effectively, which not everyone is doing just yet.

  2. Thanks Shauna. There are clear opportunities for both for-profit and not-for-profit organisations afforded by the social media. The network effects achieved through community based social platforms make it significantly easier to virally spread a message. As such, the level of reach that may have taken a single organiser months to achieve alone can now be achieved in minutes. Such organisations need to recognise the power of these networks and leverage them accordingly.