Today’s guest post is written by Ifdy Perez.
There is so much good in this world, don’t you agree?
I love HuffPo’s new Good News section because I get to start off my day reading and curating inspirational stories to my online community of do-gooders.
In fact, just this morning, I read a story about how a daughter was able to postpone the foreclosure on her parents’ home by writing a letter to Bank of America.
How awesome is that?!
But amidst the social good stories, I’m swamped with a cloud of negativity that follows me from blog to blog. Total #buzzkill.
Call me naïve, but I don’t understand the reason for it. An explanation could be that unfiltered access to Internet + free speech (with little or no consequences for those actions) makes it easy for us to bash others online.
Still, we’re drawn to reading those articles and jumping on the “Hate Train” for some reason.
It really does suck us into a warped state of mind. A place where we can easily hurt others even when we don’t mean to. If we really understood how our negative comments or blog posts affected the person we’re talking about, chances are, we’d hold off on hitting the submit button.
Beyond that, framing ideas and criticism in a negative tone hinders the effectiveness of the message you’re sending. If you’re anything like me, a list of don’ts just makes me want to do everything on that list (OK, I’m exaggerating . . . just a little)!
I work in the social good/nonprofit world and, man, I love the anti-hero stories I hear from nonprofits every week. How cool is it that a Detroit Diaper Bank put a call out on Facebook for an emergency stash of diapers, and BAM! An anonymous donor left it on their doorstep.
Or to hear a small, urban children ministry was budgeting a $60,000 deficit this year and in the last quarter of 2011 raised nearly $80,000 in one day.
Why Don’t We Hear More of These Stories?
Positivity is more effective in doing good than negativity does. Positivity can do wonders. It can inspire, change, and build people up. And if you don’t believe me, check out what Dr. Barbara Fredrickson from the University of Michigan said in this GALLUP interview:
Positive emotions don’t necessarily narrow people toward a specific action, like negative emotions do. Positive emotions . . . broaden ways of thinking beyond our regular baseline, and they accumulate. And that broadening . . . fuels self-transformation and allows people to learn new things about themselves or make new connections with other people.
And so through broadening, people build their personal resources: friendships, styles of connecting with people, knowledge of their own abilities, or even physical health and strength. They build a wide range of different resources that, in the long run, end up functioning as reserves that help people cope and survive.
If you’re still a skeptic, then you should know it’s a scientific fact people feel good after doing good.
Have I convinced you yet?
This brings me back to the question of why we don’t hear more positive stories.
We are terribly underusing the power of positive storytelling in our campaigns and community building tactics. Inspirational stories about people making a big difference in our area of interest reinforces what we’re asking our audience to do in a unique way. These stories inspire people to be part of a larger change-making movement.
Take for instance Give to the Max Day: Greater Washington. This was the first region-wide social good, online giving campaign that raised more than $2 million for more than 1,000 area nonprofits. But what’s most impressive about the campaign is nearly 18,000 people gave to a cause they cared about within a 24-hour period.
Would a series of negative blog posts and comments be able to pull that off? Hell no. But the work those nonprofits did to reach supporters with success stories worked its charm.
Negativity permeates the online world and as individual users, we don’t need to add to it, especially if we’re in a position where we have influence. So as community managers and social media strategists, we can take the extra effort to genuinely inspire our communities with positive stories, and give them the tools and direction to engage with us.
This, my dear, is at the core of a successful social good campaign.
What do you think?
Ifdy Perez is the community manager for Razoo, an online giving and fundraising platform, and editor of the Inspiring Generosity blog, which offers nonprofits inspiring stories, tips, and information to help them rock in social media fundraising. You can follow her on Twitter @IfdyPerez