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The power of social media is undoubtedly strong, with a large portion of the world’s population regularly accessing Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram and the like on a daily basis. As the name suggests, social media is social in all senses, and can, in fact, bring people together in a way that perhaps might not be possible without the convenience of online communication.

Local communities have evolved massively from those of the past: gone are the days of the small-town feel, with regular meet-ups in the village hall, everybody knowing everybody, and entire generations of families living streets away from one another. Nowadays, local communities are broader and more diverse than ever- which is certainly a positive evolvement. However, when it comes to bringing everyone together as one, it can be fairly difficult to master.

Here is where Instagram may be able to help. Listed as one of the top six most-used social media platforms of the present day, the picture-sharing app is a favourite of people of all ages and backgrounds, and for good reason.

Like with all social media platforms, Instagram effectively connects the whole world, allowing its users to closely follow the lives of, and form ties with, whoever they choose, even those across the world. While this is a clear benefit of the app, it can make the idea of trying to bring a local community together seem challenging to say the least.

However, that’s not to say that building local community spirit on Instagram is impossible. Many local businesses use Instagram as an effective platform to share their products and services to their potential nearby customers, and to much success. Going beyond this, some cities and towns have Instagram pages set up specifically for posting about events and happenings in the local area, which attract a substantial community following, this is even more effective if your know how to use instagram plus the more you use it the better.

There is plenty that can be done on Instagram to raise community spirit. The location feature allows for people to post pictures and videos and tag a local area, so that anyone visiting that location tag can see what its locals have been up to. Online banners and posters can also be posted to the platform to highlight upcoming events, raise awareness of a cause, or call for members of the community for help or information.

Ultimately, when used correctly, Instagram can make an ideal platform for bringing communities together. While it perhaps isn’t the first place people think to visit to catch up with local news and information, many users of the app do engage with relevant local accounts fairly regularly. Given the right approach and tools, and with the perseverance to succeed, local communities can benefit greatly from the power of Instagram.

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Social networks are empowering. They have their share of flaws and there are many demerits that have emerged over the years, more so recently as the world gets more familiar with the pros and cons of such public virtual platforms. To answer the question, social networks can help with social problems. Can they help with all social problems? The answer is no. However, a majority of what ails our society can be addressed and even resolved using the might of social networks.

One of the first gifts of social networks was thought of as the free platform where people could connect with others, and in some cases, people like to keep track of who they are connecting with on social networks using tools like an Instagram followers tracker. This is empowering, especially for the voiceless, the powerless and the helpless. From that perspective, social networks have already helped with one social problem, that of empowering the unheard. But if you truly think of the various social problems that warrant the attention of everyone, then the biggest revelation of social networks has been the sheer hatred that spills out in the open. The world has always had its share of hatred. However, civilized societies have tried to stand up for the good and have reformed to defeat the bad. Unfortunately, despite innumerable revolutions and transformations over the centuries, there are hard rooted prejudices, sheer dogmas and unfounded angst that still exist and are widely prevalent. Social networks have allowed people to express this and one can only address social problems if they become evident. Cocooning oneself, living in echo chambers and shutting the eyes don’t wish away the real social problems.

Social networks are amplifiers. They amplify the bad and the good. Just as there is rampant trolling, there is also the congregation of people with good intentions. There would be polarization, as has always been the case in our world. However, such polarization is at least visible and the actions as well as reactions are observed, archived and addressed. Most social problems have had the distinctly potent ability to survive, despite the progress made in every sphere. Social networks have brought back the focus on prevailing problems. Many had believed and wrongly so that a majority of social evils had been resolved, completely shelved with the history books. Now that everyone gets to realize it is not so, there can be action.

Social networks have an unprecedented and unmatched ability to bring people together. The real time engagement, the congregation of influencers including politicians, celebrities, high net worth individuals, activists, lawyers and all change makers, the concerted effort that can be triggered and facilitated along with the follow-up can truly usher in the changes that one wants to see and realize. One of the indirect benefits of the various revelations of the persistently prevailing social problems has been the fact that many people have been shaken awake from their slumber. Most people are now realizing and acknowledging that not all is well with our society. Only when such a realization happens can one expect an appropriate response. Social networks may have many pitfalls but they surely are a medium to bring in real change.

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Charities and nonprofits must use social media. All social networks and social media sites in the world have a collective presence of more than three billion people. Twitter accounts for a substantial part of that outreach. According to one study conducted by the Dartmouth Center for Marketing Research of the University of Massachusetts found that 86% of charities and nonprofits have a presence on Twitter and 71% of them reported the social media being useful for fundraising. The same study highlighted that 97% of charities and nonprofits use YouTube and 92% use Facebook. While both YouTube and Facebook are popular platforms, Twitter has a distinct advantage for charities.

A Glimpse of Charities with Substantial Presence on Twitter
Some of the charities and nonprofits that have used Twitter effectively over the years are The Stroke Association, National Forests Foundation, American Heart Association, National Education Association, Nonprofit Quarterly, Charity:Water, NOAA’s Ocean Service, Code.org, Pencils of Promise and Dallas Museum of Art. A few of these have over a million followers on Twitter, but this doesn’t really matter as some people and companies have been caught buying followers from sites like http://www.thelikesgod.co.uk that sell them cheap.

Why is Twitter Useful for Charities?
All social networks have some significance for their active users. Twitter is one social media site that has the most active influencers. Facebook is more popular among its users for friendly engagement. Instagram is more popular among celebrities and their fans. Pinterest is more popular among hobbyists. Twitter is used more popular among activists, professionals, entrepreneurs, politicians, journalists, media organizations and public personalities. Twitter is a more matured platform where people often engage in serious discussions and correspondences. There is a substantial problem of fake news and misinformation but that is common on all social networks.

Charities need to reach out to people who can make a contribution to their causes. This is more likely to happen on Twitter. High net worth individuals across the world use Twitter. They are not just present but also active. They speak on current affairs, express their opinions on serious matters affecting the world and all the people, they galvanize public opinion and can also influence others to take appropriate actions in specific cases.

Charities can champion their causes, spread the word, share what they are doing in their respective fields and invite donations on Twitter. The responses on Twitter would be much more receptive, encouraging and fruitful than the reactions on Facebook and Instagram among other social networks. Charities can bring to light issues that need to be heeded and Twitter can be the perfect amplifying platform for such purposes.

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