It would seem that with the meteoric rise of a phenomenon referred to as “social media”, those who spend time using the various platforms falling under this umbrella would be living connected, social lives. And yet the truth is, the more deeply entrenched in social media society gets, the more tied to our mobile devices we are and the more isolated we’re becoming. How can we truly create connections and relationships through social media – and solve social problems while we’re at it?
Here are just some points to keep in mind when creating the sort of website or mobile app that does real good – while connecting its users:
What does the public actually need? You may be tempted to solve all of society’s ills in one fell swoop, but the truth is that it’s best to niche down at first, then expand later if growth is sustainable. Determine what your area of expertise will be. Will you put an end to bullying? Give teachers tools for reaching students? Connect people with their neighbourhood? Work on developing an angle which will not only present the solution to a problem but also a sense of connection.
How does the public need to see it? In other words, how can you best deliver your message/solution? Do a little research (ask questions, create a survey) into how your app or website should best be presented for ease of use. For instance, if you’d like to teach kids about social issues, why not give them quizzes that will encourage them to learn more about topics and compare their scores with friends? This presents the message in a way kids can relate to while giving them incentive to earn higher scores.
Focus on connection. When designing apps and websites for adults, focus on the connection aspect of your idea. Adults are aware of the fact that we’re less connected to each other than ever before. One app which addresses this issue connects people with their neighbours, providing a sense of community, while also giving them a real-world network of social opportunities, potential babysitters…you know, the sort of networking we used to do face-to-face.
Social media can have a purpose, and it can do good – all we need is creative minds willing to work on bringing us together, and companies with the skill and expertise to bring such an idea to life in an engaging, marketable way.