It’s November, which means it’s also Movember. So this month includes seeing your friends and colleagues with moustaches that look out of place, and (if you’re like me and you don’t shave anyway) the questions about why you’re participating even though you realized long ago that facial hair is the greatest gift man has been given (it helps in looking contemplative and my chin is warm in the winter, can you say that?)
But in all seriousness, campaigns like Movember are an opportunity to gain awareness and donations for charity. And with social media, these campaigns have seen remarkable growth. Perhaps one of the best examples is the Ice Bucket Challenge, which was done in support of ALS research and awareness, that filled our Facebook feeds back in 2014. In Canada, the drive brought in over 16 million dollars through 260 000 participants, and in America over 100 million dollars was raised in August alone (a 97 million dollar increase from August 2013).
Before the rise of social media, charities could only reach you by phone or by sending physical mail. This mail usually included a picture of an impoverished child, a letter from the organization’s CEO, and inexplicably a nickel (accompanied with the line that even five cents could save a life, and the resulting question of “THEN WHY ARE YOU SENDING IT TO ME?”).
They do still use these mediums, but on social media these organizations can fill your feeds directly. Because of how often some of us check our social media profiles we can see their messages far more often then we would by receiving mail, especially in emergency situations, and we can be exposed to their advertising that is tailored to us by FaceBook and Twitter. Online they can direct us towards their own websites where we can get more information on their causes and donate immediately. In emergency situations this could actually save a life.
And those 260 000 Canadian participants for the Ice Bucket Challenge? It would have taken months of expensive TV commercials to get them, but social media brought them in (and their donations) in a month. Videos garnered thousands of views in hours, especially with celebrity appearances, and were short and informative enough to grab the attention of millions. This is not to mention to social pressure of being publicly nominated to do the challenge yourself.
And the result? Funded by the donations, researchers discovered a gene that is linked to the disease. Without social media, this may not have happened for years. So go ahead, procrastinate on FaceBook because you may just be saving a life (some ground breaking research required).