In the tradition of InCommons, many of us are now sharing knowledge and experience via social media. But, as most of us who use Facebook know, it isn't always the most constructive avenue for thoughtful discussion.
Last week, we observed an interesting demonstration of public power within our very own Facebook, Twitter and RSS newsfeeds. As nonprofit organizations seek to encourage online conversations from both devotees and newbies, what happens when the collective goodwill suddenly goes bad?
When Susan G. Komen for the Cure announced last Tuesday it was halting its partnership with Planned Parenthood affiliates, the public had its opinions. Lots of them. Susan G. Komen for the Cure's Facebook page was inundated with critical comments and 26 government officials submitted letters to Komen president Nancy Brinker, while the media publicly questioned the motives behind the decision. Reporters and bloggers even described the situation as a "PR nightmare" (Source: Jezebel).
Whether Komen received your support or disapproval, one thing is irrefutable: the outcry of public opinion made their decision the most popular news story last week. The organization's eleventh-hour reversal of its decision proved how public opinion has gained tremendous power through social media, illustrating how that power can be harnessed to influence both government policy and hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of public donations.
Imagine what could be accomplished if every public issue received this kind of attention. What could be accomplished through social networking for other "big-ticket" issues? Together, could we transform the reactionary tendencies of social media into an engine for driving positive, world-changing ideas? Think about the "listening" and the "get and give" of collaborative problem solving; everyone benefits from the exchange of ideas and best practices.
This week, take a minute to learn about what organizations are doing to promote themselves, encourage donations or solve complex issues using social networking tools. Find out how Facebook "Likes" can translate into matching donations. Check out the InCommons Search & Connect tool to find additional resources or to align your efforts with interested others. Learn and discuss ideas with others to find ways to utilize these powerful tools, while leveraging the millions of opinions and voices of support that exist out there.