Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting Blake Canterbury, founder of BeRemedy.org, which is a smart new idea for using social media to enlist community support to solve problems within that community. here’s what he had to share.
SM: Blake, real pleasure to meet you. Tell us, what is BeRemedy?
BC: BeRemedy is the simplest way for you to help other people. We go into local communities, partner with non-profits, then use crowd-sourcing to drive donations of time, money and items to these non-profits.
SM: What inspired you to start BeRemedy?
BC: It started with an internal struggle. Growing up, I saw people who had a lot, and saw people who had nothing. So as I grew up I wrestled with that struggle. Then social media came along. I looked at this and said, “We have the potential to send a message to millions of people at one time. If we could create a sustainable model to do connect those people in need, then we can figure out a solution to some problems.”
SM: What are some of the results you’ve got and how many people’s lives have you effected?
BC: In just about a year and a half, we’ve helped over 115,000 people.
SM: Give us a specific example of what that might look like. How does it work?
BC: We use the example that a remedy can come in the form of a six-year-old kid, or a multi-million dollar organization. One day, we posted a need that a single mom needed a car seat to bring her baby home from the hospital. So we posted that need, blasted it through Facebook and Twitter, and it came up in a Facebook stream in a Mom’s house. Her six-year-old daughter walked up to the computer to play on it, saw her post and said “Mom, somebody needs a car seat. What about mine?” So literally a six-year-old was a remedy for somebody else.
SM: You’ve had some recognition on CNN which is pretty exciting. What happened there?
BC: CNN ran a couple stories on us. The second one they ran was on Twitter’s five year anniversary. They said that there were three reasons that Twitter is here to stay. One was the Egyptian uprising (how they used it to overthrow government). Two was Charlie Sheen (how he generated two million followers in 24 hours). Three was BeRemedy.
SM: What can we expect from BeRemedy in the future?
BC: We’re building a social tool to take what we’re doing in Atlanta to take it nationwide, and worldwide eventually. It’s going to interact people, non-profits and business practices to create long-term solutions.
SM: If people want to support you, how can they do that? Where can they find you?
BC: Yeah there’s the basics like Twitter and Facebook, which is a great way to stay in touch with us and see the needs. But on our website there’s an email sign-up form and if you’ll go there and sign up, as we get ready to launch other cities, we’re going to notify other people through that email sign up. We’d love to have you help us bring BeRemedy to your city and be the advocate so you can be the remedy for somebody else.
SM: Fantastic. Blake it is such a pleasure to meet you. Congratulations on the work. Anyone watching, if you could, follow them on Twitter and Facebook and sign up on their website. Thanks a lot, Blake.
Over the last eighteen months we have seen a remarkable series of events that have been driven in part by social media. Protests during the Arab Spring revolutions in Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen and Saudi Arabia, as well as those that continue today in Egypt, Libya and Syria, were amplified using social media. The riots in London and through the United Kingdom this week were partly enabled and coordinated using the same tools. The question is how soon will it be before social media plays an activist role in customer’s daily lives?
Whether the long-term causes are political or economic oppression, social media has seemingly become a mainstay of organized protest. And each time this occurs, citizens around the world becoming more comfortable with engaging these tools to have their voices heard. So it’s by no means a stretch of the imagination to posit a day when consumers use these tools to organize their push-back against brands that continue to ignore their social responsibilities.
Violence in any form can never be condoned, but economic conditions around the world are becoming intolerable for a growing number of people – especially the young – that are falling out of the middle class and joining the ranks of the poor. As evidenced in London this week, when people have had so little to gain for so long, their actions demonstrate a belief that they have nothing to lose.
Yet these very tools and dynamics that are giving angry citizens a voice could just as easily be re-purposed to build a society that spreads prosperity more evenly and to earn consumer trust. Companies that invest in social causes that are in alignment with their core values will not only reap the benefits of popular support but will reinforce their brand and what it stands for. And given the present inertia in government and the limited resources of the non-profit sector, citizens and consumers are desperate for something or someone to believe in. This represents an unprecedented opportunity for companies seeking to be an instrument of change rather than greed.
My hope would be that more corporate leaders have the wisdom to drive the change that we need in our world and reap the rewards for doing so. Those who do will not only be the business leaders of tomorrow, but they will become the architects of communities that drive their business success for years to come.
Do you believe consumers will use social media to vent their frustration against socially irresponsible companies, or do you believe consumers are still too apathetic to push back against brands?
The Standard & Poor’s credit rating downgrade of the U.S. currency has already begun to have its effects on stock markets at home and around the world and much is being written about what this means for the future of America. Yet neither the short-term losses nor long-terms effects have any bearing on what is America’s greatest asset – people with the ability to reinvent themselves and their country.
A movement of renewal is well underway. Leaders in the non-profit, government and private sector are reaching out to collaborate in ways not imaginable before. CEO’s, companies and employees are embracing volunteer programs in record numbers. Non-profit leaders are becoming more effective marketers. Social entrepreneurs are reinventing the way we do business and the impact it has on our planet. Grassroots movements are rebuilding cities from Detroit to New Orleans to Joplin. Baby boomers are working longer to make ends meet. Millennials are injecting the marketing place with unbridled intelligence, optimism and energy. And consumers are becoming more mindful of the impact of what they buy and the social responsibility they demand from the brands they support. Meanwhile social technology is connecting people around causes and values in unprecedented numbers and demanding more human interaction from institutions of all types and sizes.
In the face of historic government debt and limited philanthropic resources, change agents from all walks of life are taking greater responsibility for creating the future they want for themselves and their children. This country is not wanting for passion, participation or potential, and no amount of gloomy forecasts, fearful prediction or negative projections can dampen the spirits of those driving this movement. The values, work ethic, and ingenuity that built this country grow stronger through struggle and their champions will not be dissuaded from building a prosperous and sustainable future.
Where do you think responsibility for out future lies? With institutions such a governments and non profits, or with ourselves?
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