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Social Media for Social Good

Social Media for Social Good – #SMWHKsm4sg – Wednesday, September 26th, 2012


Before broaching the topic of Social Media for Social Good, a couple of reasonable yet simple questions must be posed. Who knows what CSR is? (Corporate Social Responsibility). Who knows what an NGO is? (Non-Government Organisation).


With that settled and the promise of seeing a cute puppy later, Hong Kong’s digi-favourites, Jay Oatway and Ali Bullock (recently appointed Head of Digital at WWF), kicked off their event #SMWHKsm4sg.


To begin, Ali took the audience through a fantastic Shell campaign – or was it a Greenpeace campaign? A website http://arcticready.com/arctic that looked like it belonged to Shell, shows images of environmental destruction with poignant headlines like “You Can’t Run Your SUV on Cute” and “Birds Are Like Sponges, for Oil”. There wasn’t much Shell could do about it – because what’s there has a ring of truth around it. All they did was officially announce it wasn’t there website. Such little action was probably their best course – anything else would have left Greenpeace with more fuel to attack.


Greenpeace also made a campaign image reading People Power Wins, after 2 million people had supposedly voiced their concern for drilling in the Arctic. Did Greenpeace really have 2 million supporters for this campaign? Ali clarified that actually, an accidental oil spill, which Shell couldn’t clean up, led to them losing their license to drill – for a year, only. The takeaway? Be very careful with choice of words on social media.


In fact, be careful with images too.  A photo of an illegal dogfight (note the repeating theme here) in an arena area quickly made Heineken – whose banners were in the background – look like they were sponsoring the events. They did use Facebook to state that they weren’t, but their response was flat and simple. There was a huge, missed opportunity there, where Jay noted that Heineken could have built on their CSR program by supporting charities or getting involved in actual events, to show that they not only were innocent, but proactive and caring. The takeaway? Social media sentiments have to leave the platform and turn into real actions.


We use social media to build a community, to create a dialogue, to be more personal. Ali questioned whether or not corporations are afraid to “blow their own trumpet” about the good they do. They don’t, so often, shout about their good actions and use it to create a good story. CSR can be fun for a company and create a great way to encourage interaction between brand and consumer – invite them to your beach cleanup. It’s a huge opportunity, so often missed. Social media is about engagement. After all, “a thousand followers do not equal a thousand engaged followers.”


The event couldn’t go without mention of the huge announcement that Cathay made recently, that they would no longer serve or help freight shark fin. Ali was enjoying his last week as Head of Digital at Cathay Pacific when the company finally made the official press announcement. “An email started the ball rolling,” he recalls.


A comment that kept being repeated was that social good can start with one person. You don’t need a million. You ask the question and start the chain of thought. It’s one email or one voice that can change an outcome. Social media is the perfect place to be just that one person and see where it ends up. #Slacktivism.


Michael Wong from SPCA joined for a Q&A session. “Our followers are usually already passionate about caring for animals. With social media, they ask us a lot of questions and tell us about harmed animals they’ve seen. So we have to be very careful in how we respond,” he explained. For SPCA there is the double-edged sword of negative comments like “puppy killers.” As with any company or brand, SPCA has had to learn to be fast and efficient at handling their social media accounts.


Last year, the SPCA saved Pepper (#savepepper), the dog who quickly found a home during SMW. This year, the hope is to home Spring Roll, who was highly neglected by her previous owner. The #savespringroll campaign is on! Learn more about her here.   http://j.mp/savespringroll


To learn more about charities you can get involved in, here in Hong Kong, visit http://HANDSONHONGKONG.ORG/. You might be surprised by how many companies are willing to give time off to employees who want to partake in charitable action.


Host Committee
Cohn & Wolfe-impactasia
Social Media Week, Hong Kong

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