This update was well due. A hectic period with the company I now work for, and the new Social Media label I am setting up at Havas Media (which is going to be called Socialyse). So to my readers I’m sorry it took so long. But from now on I will try to spend more time writing. For now this was finishing the second and last part of the Social Good Summit I attended in New York. I wondered if I still had to finish it, after all this time. But I do think it is still relevant. Please give me your thoughts on what you think.
Social Good and assumptions
My own thoughts about what good we could with Social Media before this Summit started was actually pretty limited. I thought about cutting edge technology, app’s and smartphones as an answer to secure funding and philanthropy throughout the digital space. But now after seeing almost every talk, discussion and presentation that was provided to me this last couple of days I have to review my earlier assumptions.
So what struck me is the way big NGO’ but also small start-ups are using basic features of the Social Space to connect with people in need. Like the use of SMS (for the no-so-tech-savvy this the abbreviation for Short Messaging System). Like an organization called The Earth Institute
In the link shown above you will actually see an example of the use of SMS to help patients get in touch with doctors in remote areas of Africa, where they are without easy accessible medical coverage. The Earth Institute is actually partnering up with one of the main sponsors of the Social Good Summit, Ericson. Ericson is using their knowledge about setting up networks in Africa so these new use of “old” technology are actually possible. It has been actually made perfectly clear to me that developing countries in Africa, like Tanzania are leapfrogging the idea of phone-(land)-lines. The poorer areas in the world are going directly over to mobile phones and mobile internet. And I have even been told by Hans Vestberg, CEO of Ericson, that Africa will have reached full mobile coverage in only two years.
Where is the Social in all this?
So you may wonder what this have to do with Social Media? Well the Earth Institute is actually monitoring the incoming messages and connecting people in need with the available resources. You could say that monitoring this community is set-up in the exact same way as a Social Media Manager that monitors every message that is put in the Social Sphere by clients or potential clients.
But there where also talks and discussions where some really tech-advanced apps and software was being presented. I found that having some really committed people throwing themselves on solving the world problems they can and will come up with some amazing answers. I actually starting to think that presented with such a strong emotional loaded goal companies and NGO’s are really are revolutionizing certain parts of the Social Sphere. This revelation is of course nothing new. Albert Einstein has said: “Necessity is mother of all invention”.
Starstruck or Starbucks fueled Summit?
Before I go on talking about an example on this Social Savvy Organization of the Famous seven-time Tour De France winning cyclist, I actually wanted to say something else. What an amazing conference. And when I say amazing, I really mean amazing. Part of this is the organization of the conference and a Starbucks around the corner. Every talk, speech and discussion is on time, every time. Another big part of the success is because of the people presented on this conference. I’m glad I’m not easily starstruck, but it’s almost hard not to be. I mean, giving you just a small grab of the “famous” people during the Summit: Bishop Desmund Tutu, Dr Muhammad Yunus, Barbara Bush, Jakaya Kikwete president of the Republic of Tanzania, but also Tony Bates, ceo of Skype, Nicholas Negroponte of the One Laptop per Child Foundation and Ted Turner of Turner Enterprises and Founder of CNN. And This is not even it. Of course a lot of these statesmen, or UN foundation related VIP’s could attend this Summit because of the UN Assembly which also happens to be in town this week, but it still is an impressive feat to get them all to come and talk about this theme, Social Media and doing good.
So getting back to the really important stuff. Lance Armstrong came and talk about his organization and discussing the idea of the LiveStrong foundation to tackle all non-communicable diseases. LiveStrong was set up like a grassroot movement. When they first started they had no idea the following of this foundation would become so big and so involved. The use of Social Media, Twitter and Facebook are now actually the most important pillars of the organization. “If we want to do a special meeting tomorrow in New York, I can garantee that I will get at least 60 people to help us within a day, and this is true all around the world. And I can do this through the use of Social Media”, Lance Armstrong commented. The Facebook page of the foundation has become the number one spot for information about cancer, and surpasses their traffic to their site.
So seeing an opportunity to do some good, there are also a couple of companies who just own up to their responsibility and are starting to do more than donate money. Companies like General Electrics and Skype, but also the new company I will work for, HAVAS. Three companies who donate their resources in totally different ways.
I had a great time in New York, but more importantly I was able to see Social Media and the Social aspect of media, This made me believe that we (the inhabitants of the richest countries in the world) have the moral obligation to think about what they can do to equalize the problems in the world a bit. Yes there is a credit crisis, yes there are people suffering in the Netherlands as well as in Asia or Africa, but please do not forget most of our governments think about its people and take care of them in a way no government in central africa can. Not because they are unwilling, but because they do not have the infrastructure or funds to provide sufficient care and education. So let us keep connected, keep thinking about solutions, and keep it Social…