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Too often, many of us think of social media as a personal advantage tool . We use Twitter as a sounding-off platform when we’ve had a bad experience with a brand in the hope that publically venting will get the situation resolved the way we want it. Or we check-in the most times on Foursquare to claim that free weekly Mayor’s pizza from Domino’s. Too often, we make social media about us. “What’s in it for us?” we cry. “Why should we do this?”
But, shouldn’t social media be more than this? After all, the word ‘social’ is in there for a reason, and it’s not just so you and your friends can benefit. The likes of JustGiving has existed since 2000 as a tool to raise money online for charities, and various celebrities including Lady Gaga and Usher died a digital death recently to raise money for World AIDS Day. Local chap, Alex Robertson last week implored his online followers to give the price of a beer in Edinburgh for him doing the Tough Guy challenge. Individually, we seem to be harnessing the power of social media for the greater good and we’re fine with this, but let’s take this away from an individual stance. Let’s ask, what can companies do to help others?
Shopping through Give as you Live , from Everyclick, means that by making your purchases through their site or app, your favourite online cause will receive a donation. Over 1,000 retailers are currently signed up, including Tesco, iTunes, lastminute.com and Boots, and they’ll donate an average of 2.5% of your total spent on their website to your chosen charity. £1.6 million has been raised so far, merely from users going slightly out of their way and logging into their retail accounts through Give as you Live, instead of directly.
That’s brilliant – donations for nothing, effectively – but it’s made me think. This week Facebook Deals launched in the UK and other European countries (with limited big-brand partners, sources tell us a full self-service system is expected end Q1) following the US launch last November. As it currently stands 28 million people in the UK have a Facebook account, with just under half of those people logging in at least once a day. It’s pretty safe to say that Facebook is deeply engrained in our consciousness and that if Facebook Deals takes off, checking-in to places will soon become second nature, being more intuitive than going to a site like Give as you Live.
But, so far, only Argos and Benetton have offered up a charity donation for a check-in, with companies like Alton Towers, YO! Sushi and Starbucks making their check-ins for our personal gain. Sure that’s nice for us and a great way to build momentum for Facebook Deals, but in the future I’d rather see a 5% donation to a charity for checking-in than a 5% discount on my morning coffee. It’s time social media was harnessed more for the greater good than it currently is, and the sheer popularity of Facebook means now is as good a time to make us start thinking about how we can start to help others instead of ourselves. We’re fine with donating our money to friends through JustGiving for running 10ks and marathons, but isn’t it about time we made companies step up their game and cough up the cash? I think so, which is why I’m saying make my check-in a charity donation – are you with me?
Claire Field is an in-house web editor and community manager with a huge passion for social media and tea. Take a look at her site here
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