Years of running social media courses have taught me one thing: social media as a whole doesn’t have a great reputation, especially with those who do not use it. Many of the world’s problems are often accredited to social media and its misuse. My view of it is not anti social media causing these problems, it is actually anti social people. If used in the right way, social media is an incredibly powerful tool that can make a real difference to the world.
In the past few weeks alone there have been two fantastic examples of this to celebrate. Firstly, providing you didn’t spend March on another planet, you will have no doubt seen the petition heavily promoted on Twitter and Facebook campaigning for more to be done to tackle Pancreatic Cancer. Pancreatic Cancer, despite being only the tenth most common cancer in the UK is responsible for the fifth highest amount of cancer deaths. I for one have first hand experience of this truly heartbreaking disease that leaves over 90% of those diagnosed with less than 6 months to live. The most concerning issue is that unlike many other cancers, pancreatic cancer has not seen an increase in survival rates since 1970. Shocking I think you will agree. One woman decided this was not good enough. Along with others she campaigned tirelessly to promote an e-petition asking for more to be done. For those of you who are unaware, if a petition reaches 100,000 signatures it will then be discussed in the houses of parliament. Although an ambitious task, a group of people set to sharing the link in every nook and cranny across all social media platforms. I am delighted to say that the campaign went viral, attracting support for celebrities, local and national newspapers and the every day Facebook and Twitter user. The weekend before the campaign was due to end the petition reached it target and the first steps in tackling this cruel disease are now taking place.
Secondly,’ there is the equally heartbreaking and lovely tale of Stephens Story. Stephen Sutton is a 19 year old who faces the biggest battle of his life, dealing with terminal cancer. You would forgive him for feeling angry or hard done by, although Stephen is no ordinary 19 year old. He created a bucket list with his number one objective of raising £10,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Stephen set up a website, Facebook and Twitter page updating the world with how his efforts were going. Thanks to Stephens charm and personality along with the support of celebrity friends such as the comedian, Jason Manford, the campaign exceeded all expectations. Stephen now has almost half a million fans on Facebook and almost two hundred thousand followers on Twitter. What is even more impressive is that his objective of achieving that £10,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust was well and truly blown out of the water! At the time of writing this, Stephen has raised £3,000,000 for an incredibly worthy cause! You read that right, THREE MILLION POUNDS!
Two brilliant examples of how social media, if used in the right way, can make a real difference. These examples highlight even more, two incredible campaigns by two truly inspirational people.