When I give presentations to Social Marketing folks, one of my favourite statistics is this interesting point:
In the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, 13 million Americans made donations to relief efforts online and 7 million set up their own hurricane relief efforts using the internet. (Pew Internet)
Think about that for a second. More than one third of all relief efforts online were from individuals setting up their own efforts and soliciting aid. Even accounting for the inevitable scam sites set up under false pretenses, this fact is still staggering. Not only for the volume of the effort, but for a landshift in public perception of the Internet’s role in a crisis and as part of relief efforts. Clearly, it is no longer enough to learn about tragedies and send in your dollars. People want to be more active participants. Many want to do more than just sign and send a check (or fill out a form online). Social marketing online is about participation, where anyone can contribute – or choose to lead their own effort.
So it is not surprising that you have cases like the Invisible Children campaign, where a few young filmmakers create a documentary and start the Global Night Commute movement online to raise awareness of the plight of the invisible children in Uganda. The younger generation, in particular, has been very vocal in their crusades against injustices of many kinds. This is a different kind of social networking – all about having a voice in something that matters, and using it. Another recently launched example is Youth Noise – a site targeted to teens and focused on "changing the world." You can learn about causes, contribute content, and essentially find your voice on social issues and get involved or lead your own efforts. One of the underlying concepts of the site is the RE*Generation (how the world can be changed for the better and heal itself). The term is also used by Virgin Mobile in a marketing partnership, but fits well as a defining tag for the generation. It would be nice to think it isn’t the "me generation" as much as it is the "it’s up to me generation." With more efforts like Youth Noise – hopefully teens will continue to find their voice on issues that matter to them. There are already signs these voices getting stronger.
(Thanks to Nedra Weinreich for the link to Youth Noise)