Social Media Column: Social media lending a helping hand at Christmas

Published in the December 18, 2012 issue of The Edmonton Sun.

Linda’s social media column can be found every Tuesday in the Edmonton Sun.

Social media lending a helping hand at Christmas

During the holidays, we’re often reminded to think of the less fortunate and what we can do to help ensure their season is merry.

A lot of that comes from donating time, food or money to different non-profit organizations that assist the needy during this season, but also year round.

And now more than ever, those non-profits have a powerful tool to help them help those in need: social media.

“I see a lot of doors opening up that people are being made aware of who we are, more so than they ever would have been before we used social media,” said Kristen Clark with the Bissell Centre.

Clark says more awareness and donations have been made to the centre because of social media. Back in July, the centre was flooded and Edmontonians came to the rescue almost instantly after the centre tweeted their needs.

This month, the Bissell Centre launched two social media campaigns under the hashtags #yegcares and #warmingyeg. The #yegcares initiative invites social media users and bloggers to come tour the centre, talk to staff and clients, and share their experiences online.

The centre also does an annual hoodie campaign and this year tied in Twitter and the hashtag #warmingyeg to promote and increase donation numbers.

I reached out to a few other charities, asking them how social media has changed and helped their organization and here are just a few examples:

“We have over 5,500 Twitter followers and find that spreading news via Twitter is a great way to get news to some of our supporters,” said Bridgette Toliver with the Edmonton Food Bank.

“Social media has definitely increased our profile for the 2012 campaign through awareness and followers on Twitter and sharing on Facebook,” said Barb Matwie with the Christmas Bureau.

“There are some dedicated followers who assist us in getting the word out whether it is for volunteers or donation information. Each year I think social media’s importance in our campaign increases,” said Lana Nordlund with Santas Anonymous.

“We’re able to connect with more people and increase our profile in our community this way. We didn’t have the opportunity to connect with people like this, on this level, before social media,” said Kerryn North with Meals on Wheels.

Thanks to social networks, charities are top of mind for a huge number of people who spend a lot of their day online.

Before these non-profits got onto Twitter, I admit, I rarely thought about them.

Now I see regular tweets from them and am always thinking of what I can do to help – even if it’s something as simple as retweeting their message to my followers.

The less fortunate are likely not on social media but through social media, they’re being helped.

And that is yet another example of how powerful and how wonderful social media really is.

Some Tweets of the Week

@madisonzayak: I can’t imagine living somewhere that doesn’t have snow during Christmas. It’s just not Christmas without snow. #AlbertaLove #yeg

@janellebeblow: Very much enjoyed the lunchtime Xmas concerts by local school children at #yeg city hall.

@PrincessOCanada: I make a conscious effort to make December a stress free, joyful month. It works. My Christmas season is usually wonderful! #yeg

@erickhamdan: #YEG competitive advantage over any city: the winter weather. It provides no distractions allowing us to be productive and results driven.

@qendresa: Edmonton is making the ETS service free on NYE to try and prevent people from drinking & driving. Go #YEG this makes me proud. #initiative

Click here to read the column on the Edmonton Sun website!

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