12 Most Tricky Things About Doing Social Good Online

12 Most Tricky Things About Doing Social Good Online

In an ideal world, like the one I recreate in my dreams every night, supporting and spreading social good in the online world would not be fraught with any kind of danger. It would be easy as pie. It would be nothing but satisfying.

As I discover on a regular basis, of course, ours is not the ideal world! There are a lot of little booby traps one can fall into in the effort to spread social good using social media. I wanted to highlight some of these so that you could avoid these potential hazards in the future.

1. Being careful what you click

When you get in a mode of supporting people who are doing social good, it’s easy to get a little click-happy. You want to see what this effort they’re tweeting about is all about so you can help out. Unfortunately, even the nicest looking tweet can disguise a link that will take you to a spam site. Copy and paste links, don’t just click!

2. Being careful what you retweet or share

Similar to number 1, this is a very important thing to remember. You don’t want your credibility to go down as your meter for social good goes up. Make sure you check everything out so that you aren’t inadvertently taking people to a site you would never visit yourself.

3. Being careful how you make the ask

Even though your intentions are good, it can be easy to ask for help or support in ways that really turn people off. For example, if all you ever say to people is, “Have you donated yet??” that can get pretty old. Make sure to stay human, just like you would if you were promoting your business or brand. People like to converse online, not just send their money to PayPal.

4. Finding ways to help apart from donating money

A way to help you prevent ticking people off with your ask is to make sure you’re not just asking people to dig up their wallets. There are tons of ways to spread the good online without spending anything but a few seconds. Share content to help spread the word, help a hashtag topic trend on Twitter, or help spread awareness about a problem. It’s just as powerful, often times.

5. Realizing you will not please or impress everyone

This is a hard lesson to learn. It seems impossible that people would get itchy about the idea of social good, but I’ve seen it happen quite a lot. Maybe your cause goes against what someone believes, or, more commonly, maybe someone wants to focus their efforts on a different issue that they feel is much more important. If you really believe in your cause, don’t let this distract you, but be ready for it.

6. Remembering your name and content is now tied to that social good effort

It’s always confusing to see someone tweeting about love and peace one minute and then tearing into a person the next minute. While the online world is a perpetually changing environment, you have to be particularly careful when promoting social good not to let a bad day or a bad mood cloud how people feel about your tweets or blogs or updates. That can tarnish all of the hard work you’ve done!

7. Not bugging the big names

When you really want something online to succeed, your first instinct is often to contact the people who have 130,000 people following them. If they could just retweet your efforts or your post, you would be on the home stretch, right? Well, not really. First of all, people with big followings get so many asks yours is just another one added to the pile. Second, if they don’t really feel passionately about the cause, they’re going to have a tough time selling it the right way to all of those followers. If a big name gravitates towards your work, great. Try to avoid the temptation of asking everyone with x number of followers to help you out, though.

8. Finding the people who can connect with your cause

Finding the right people to support a cause in the world of Twitter can seem very much like finding a needle in a haystack. However, if you can succeed, this is the way to get your work to catch fire. Look for chats. Do searches. Engage in conversation. One person leads to another!

9. Facing people who will be mean to you

This is another humdinger. You’re trying to do something nice and people are coming at you with troll talk. Why does that happen? Well, people have all sorts of reasons for doing the things they do. Maybe the issue hits close to home for them, or maybe they wish they were as nice as you. In any case, see number 6 – don’t react with anger or hatred. Just try to ignore and keep up your good work.

10. Remembering it’s not about you

Another tricky thing to remember when doing social good online is that you’re working to promote the cause, not yourself. Sometimes you’ll find that your number of Twitter followers grows as you spread social good, or maybe you’re getting more blog comments. That’s nice, but that’s also a distraction. People starving in Sudan will not be affected by how many followers you have on an online social media platform. Keep your eyes on the REAL prize.

11. Not viewing other causes as competition

One major disadvantage of letting your social good work evolve into “your baby” is that you can actually start looking at other good causes as competition. There are more than enough problems in the world to allow for hundreds of thousands of people spreading the message of social good online. You don’t have the only cause that matters, nor do other people. Support each other!

12. Remembering to say thank you

Especially if you are far from hitting a goal, it can be easy to skip saying thank you to the people who ARE helping you out. Nothing can kill a good vibe faster. Anyone who takes a minute to share your content or help you with your cause deserves a show of gratitude. It doesn’t have to be ridiculously over the top, but it should be there.

What other potential traps are out there in the online world when you are trying to do social good? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Margie Clayman


Marjorie Clayman (@margieclayman) is the Director of Client Development at her family's 58-year-old marketing firm, Clayman Advertising, Inc. Margie is the resident blogger at www.margieclayman.com and is the resident librarian at www.thebloglibrary.com. Margie's writing has been featured on pushingsocial.com, problogger.net, convinceandconvert.com, and dannybrown.me. Margie has recently published an e-book called The ABC’s of Marketing Myths. Margie is still not used to talking about herself in the third person but is working on it.

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