Thursday, December 23, 2010

Social Media Means Helping Others

It's the time of year when reports of acts of kindness fill the news. Average people reach out to make life easier for other people who are trying to get by, making the world just a little better, one moment of decency at a time.

Social Media is no different. Your Twitter stream is likely to be full of links to non-profits, stories of good-hearted people helping others and celebrities using their popularity to support causes of importance to them.

Popularity can drive passion. The more followers/friends/contacts you have, the more impact a simple request for a donation to a charity can make.

But you don't have 10,000 followers, you say. You can't make that kind of impact. No, maybe you can't with one tweet...but you can if you focus your niche into a cause that resonates with your audience. Using the Social Media you already have access to and no more, you can rally your existing customers into a force for good.

Once again, I offer my other blog as an example. On Okazu, I review books and other media. One of the habits I have formed over the years is to donate some of what I review (and other books I read, but do not review) to my local library. One of the pain points for many of my readers is that their libraries do not carry books they are interested in. Over the years I've encouraged readers to donate their unwanted graphic novels to their libraries, to use Interlibrary Loan to expand their reading and generally assist their libraries in developing strong graphic novel collections. This has expanded into a strong support of libraries world-wide among my readers. For Banned Books Week, I offered any Library that requested it a complete library of all my publications.

I have received emails and comments from people all over the world about their donations to their libraries becoming a kernel of a new collection. And some of my readers have begun buying extra copies of what they read specifically to donate to their library, something my wife and I now call "Feeding the Library." I often add books I might not otherwise get to my orders to give to the Library - and I've encouraged a few local companies to donate books and even DVDs.

Supporting my local library may not change the world, but that's not the point here. If it makes a positive difference in one life, it makes a difference. Like Toys for Tots or giving school supplies, the goal is to make life better for a person. If I encourage the reading, the writing, the artistic endeavor of one person by my donation, I've succeeded. And so can you.

You know your niche. Whether your focus is to be the best sandwich shop in town, the fastest and friendliest tire store, the best accountant, the vet doctor that everyone loves, there's a way to turn your niche into support for a cause that will light a fire in your and your customer's hearts. Run a restaurant? Why not ask folks to contribute to a food donation drive, then lead the way with a gift of your own? Sell shoes? Maybe the local Battered Women's shelter could use some of those left-over stock from last year, or donations of  barely-worn, good shoes for the kids in the Shelter.

The niche you live and breathe every day can become a cause that brings your passion to your customers. You can make a few people's lives a little better and cement your reputation as an important member of your community.

Donate your time, your expertise, or your skills to a cause that means a lot to you and that ties in with your business. Use your Social Media to spread the word of the cause that warms your heart. Build your reputation, your audience and your community up with one act of kindness.
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