July 08, 2011 / by Jessica Butcher

I recently went with a group of 145 people down to Tecate, Mexico. Our goal was to build 5 houses in 3 days for families that give our concept of “needy” a new meaning. Additionally, I wanted to bless the family I was building for financially. I had a certain amount of money set aside that I planned to donate, but, with a “spur of the moment” idea, 3 days before I left I decided to take to Facebook to see how much more money I could raise from my “friends”. I posted updates like the following:

I’ll be in Mexico next week building a house for a family of 5 that lives on $85/mo. If you’d like to make a donation directly to this family please let me know!

I had grand expectations of the responses I’d receive (seriously, I was prematurely patting myself on the back and imagining the blog I’d be able to write about using social media for social good and how awesome it is, etc, etc). Guess how many responses I received? None. Want to know how many “likes” I got? Several. Hopefully you see my point, but just in case you don’t: “likes” don’t matter as much as you think they do! In this case, they don’t matter at all. Now, while I certainly appreciate them, I can guarantee the family I built the house for doesn’t care how many people “liked” that I was trying to raise money for them. They care about food on the table and money to put it there.

So what’s the take-away? First of all, if you want to run a “Social Media for Social Good” campaign, you should give yourself enough time to do it successfully (my 3 days were sorely insufficient). Have a plan ahead of time; know where you’re going, how you’ll get there and how long it’ll take. Second, focus on the goal. Your number of fans, followers, likes, and retweets don’t mean anything if you’re not actually raising awareness and/or money. Don’t get swept up in the hype (even though we all love an @mention). Rather, use social media to actually accomplish something. And then write a really great blog about it and send it to me because I’d love to hear about it.

Tags : social media

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