Beyond the “Like” Button: Three Nonprofits That Use Social Media to Drive Action

Jul 25, 2011

From the ubiquitous Facebook "Like" button to Google’s new +1, it’s never been easier to share what you’ve found exploring. But sometimes clicking the share button just isn’t enough.

From the ubiquitous "Like" and "Tweet" buttons to Google’s new +1, it’s never been easier to share online. But sometimes clicking a button just isn’t enough. For the social web to really spark change, users need other actions to take. Here are three sites that demonstrate what can happen when you ask users to do more.

It Gets Better

In the fall of 2010, America was horrified by the tragic actions of gay young people who took their lives after suffering prolonged bullying and harassment. Dan Savage, a popular gay columnist, wanting to take action, recorded a simple video with his partner, letting young people know that “It Gets Better.”

Within days, inspired by Dan’s message, members of the public began to post their own videos. Realizing this movement had the potential to change lives and offer hope, It Gets better needed a social website for the rapidly expanding collection of moving user-generated videos —

A big challenge with It Gets Better was to create a site that captured the excitement (and data) coming out of a truly organic online movement. In the end, the site cataloged and accepted YouTube videos, plus allowed users to share and comment. Getting the word out and generating high quality user videos were key to the movement’s success.

In the two months following the original video, 5,000 were added and over 100,000 (now almost 200,000) people Liked It Gets Better on Facebook. Each interaction has helped to shine a national spotlight on the tragic frequency of LGBT suicide.

online advocacy social media

Remember Me

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) had 1100 pictures of children who were victims of the Holocaust. It wasn’t known how many of these children survived, and many photos were missing identifiers.

The website, Remember Me, provided a way to display these haunting pictures and push them out to various social networks. USHMM employed Facebook Comments to insure maximum exposure for each individual photograph in the hope that people might recognize an old friend or family member and let them know.

It worked. So far, over 35 children have been identified from the photos, including this incredible discovery — read the below Facebook Comment from an 80-year-old survivor.

remember me social media ugc content

Most Jewish

The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College wanted a fun way to have users talk about what being Jewish means to them. The solution was the Most Jewish card game — a social way to start the conversation. Users ‘voted’ on what terms were the most Jewish to them, from “golf” to “Brooklyn.”

The participants were able to engage in conversations about what being Jewish meant to them in a very low-barrier way. The Most Jewish site incorporated Facebook Comments, meaning votes and comments were easily pushed into the users social profile. This activity was supported by an active blog and frequent updates on the leader board that created a lively discussion across formats.

online game user-generated content

More Than Sharing

If we invite users to submit videos, participate in historic research, or examine their faith, they’ll come back and continue to engage. They may even talk about your site offline — sharing without a button.


Ryan Davis is Director of Social Media Strategy at Blue State Digital. This article first appeared in the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) Blog.