Mashable Social Good Summit Recap
I had the privilege of attending the 7th Annual Mashable Social Good Summit to hear some of the world's most innovative thinkers share their thoughts on what we can do to make the world a better place.
The summit featured a wide range of speakers, from Secretary of State John Kerry to television host Chelsea Handler. The major topic of conversation this year was the refugee crisis. BBC Journalist Alan Kasujja set the tone early in the day by stating, “it’s not about numbers, because every refugee is a person.”
As a Digital Strategist, I was on the lookout for how social and digital tools can drive social progress and change, for refugees and beyond. The Director of the 92Y, Henry Timms, opened the day with a thesis statement of sorts that would be proven throughout the day: “The power of this generation is not in connecting with more technology, it is in connecting with more humanity.”
A few more speaker highlights:
1) “I had to imagine myself into existence. I didn’t see myself in media, so I found representation in social media.” - Tiq Milan
During the panel on LGBTQ representation in the media, panelists spoke about how the media shaped the way people saw them, and how they saw themselves. As a black transgender man, Tiq Milan, didn’t have any media representation growing up, and still doesn’t. He spoke of the importance of social media in finding a community of people like him and his shock in finding a Yahoo group full of 400 other black trans men. “Until then, I thought I was the only one.”
This points to social media’s powerful role in giving people the means to find their community. Whether it be by nationality, sexual orientation or common interest, social channels are full of passionate groups that when used the right way, can empower people be more authentic versions of themselves. And when communities are created, they become more visible, stories are told, and hopefully, society at large takes notice.
2) "‘Hashtivism’ is insulting. We’ve forced mainstream media to cover things they previously ignored.” - Luvie Ajayi
While speaking on a “#BlackLivesMatter” panel, author, speaker and branding strategist Luvie Ajayi said turning a hashtag into a call to action pointed to the power of social media to drive change and criticized the term “hashtivism.” She pointed out #BlackLivesMatter has driven conversation about the issues of police brutality, led to increased media coverage and organizations like Campaign Zero -- which gives clear definitions to what the movement is trying to achieve -- have developed under it. Without the organizing idea and a way to quantify the conversation, the movement risked being drowned out, but sheer volume of its message forced the media to pay attention and continues to drive conversation through new topics, such as Colin Kaepernick’s protests.
3) "The internet is better at revealing the problems but doesn’t give you the tools to fix them faster. It provides the sunlight but not the means to do something about it, and it's leading to a sense of outrage.”- Teddy Goff
Teddy Goff, the Chief Digital Strategist for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, talked about his experience working on not one, not two, but three Presidential campaigns in “Digital in the Eye of the Campaign.” His first two campaigns were for President Obama, and he was quick to point out how much the digital landscape has changed since then. During Obama’s first campaign, the iPhone was new, Facebook was just opening up to everyone and the idea of a “Twitter strategy” would have been laughable.
While today’s internet offers more information and raises awareness around societal issues at a faster pace, Goff argued that it doesn’t provide direction or an easier way to solve them, necessarily. That being said, he doesn’t believe in the term “slacktivism.” He believes that learning about issues via social media makes people more likely to take action, not less, a similar sentiment to what Ajayi expressed in her dislike for the term “hashtivism.”
4) “If you are asking them to share on social media, that is a huge ask with a very high barrier to action.”- Aria Finger
Aria Finger, Founder of DoSomething.Org, shared her 5 myths about millennials in her talk entitled, “The Connected Generation: The Leaders of 2030.” One was: “They don’t care about privacy.” She points to the generation that makes “Finstagrams” as one that carefully manages image and is deeply concerned with privacy. Therefore, asking them to share things through social media is a huge ask. The connection to the content must be genuine and real, and often gives them a sense of connection to a larger community.
As we try to fully understand the power of social media as an agent of social change, it’s important for us as marketers and brand ambassadors to remember the importance of authenticity in our CSR campaigns and to pay attention to social movements.
With the right intentions, we may be able to amplify the work so many of the people at the Mashable Social Good Summit are doing – the kind of work that connects humanity across the globe.