What Is Social Impact: Positive Influence via Social Media

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Karen Lin

Instagram 101 | May 16, 2024

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Instagram and every other social media platform can sometimes get a bad rap for being “shallow.” Many assume the app is all about overly manicured, aesthetic photos or a race to gain followers fast for fame. In reality, Instagram has plenty of potential positive impacts in the world, especially for social impact initiatives. But what is social impact to begin with?

Everyone strives to make an impact on society in some way. For some, it can be as simple as influencing their friends to listen to a new musical artist. Meanwhile, others make it their mission to solve social challenges or leave an environmental impact on the world. Regardless of how you want to impact society, social media can play a huge part.

Today, we’re talking about social responsibility, its impact on society, and Instagram’s role. Do you want to make a difference in the world with the help of social media? Read this guide to learn how it can be done.

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What Is Social Impact?

This social phenomenon is quite self-explanatory. People in a space influence each other’s thoughts and actions.

It comes from the social impact theory, which was created by Bibb Latané in the early 1980s. This theory suggests that there are three things that influence someone’s thinking and decision-making in a social setting. These are the strength, immediacy, and quantity of sources influencing someone’s thoughts and actions.

For example, let’s say your favorite fitness influencer posts a new exercise regimen. Because of the length and difficulty level of the workout, you’re not as excited to try it out. But then you notice in the comments section that plenty of people, including other fitness creators, are saying good things about it. This sways you to try the workout yourself and end up loving it.

All three factors of the theory are present in this situation. There’s strength in the influence of others because big names in the fitness industry shared positive reactions in the comments. If you look at the comments straight away after seeing the post, it creates high immediacy. The number of sources of influence is also high because you saw many comments about the post. So, it’s not too far off to say that what others expressed impacted your thoughts and decisions, too.

Of course, that’s just one small example of social influence or impact. In the real world, it affects advocacy groups, social justice movements, charities, and even businesses. These groups try to incorporate this strategy into their mission to make a positive impact on the world.

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Peer Pressure vs. Positive Social Impact: How Can You Tell the Difference?

After reading the situation above, your next question might be, “How is positive social impact different from peer pressure?” Well, the answer is in the question itself–it’s a positive experience.

Peer pressure is the feeling of needing to conform to certain attitudes and do things you might be uncomfortable with. You do it even if you’re unsure about enjoying the direct impacts of fitting in and winning over your peers.

But social impact isn’t like that at all. Instead, it involves others making an effort to educate or inform you about social challenges that need your help. It empowers you instead of making you feel pressured or uncomfortable. In the end, it can even push you to support and influence communities to make a positive social change, too.

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What Are Social Consequences?

Are you trying to make a direct impact on society? It always begs the question, “What are social consequences?” These consequences are positive or negative effects on social initiatives and campaigns. Typically, they are immediate results you can easily observe in a group or a few individuals.

For example, a body positivity project’s social consequence might include a boost in confidence in young women. It also opens people’s eyes to the struggles of people with body dysmorphia.

However, if the project isn’t well-executed or done respectfully, it could result in negative consequences. These can include something like a backlash for unknowingly derogatory terms used for certain body types.

The Meaning of Social Implications: What Happens After These Initiatives?

Social consequences are more focused on immediate, small-scale results of a social initiative. However, the meaning of social implications is a little deeper and more permanent. Social implications are the effects an initiative can have on society in a systemic, structural sense. It’s a “bigger” impact that will affect everyone, even those who did not participate in the initiative.

Let’s take an initiative focused on saving the environment. Some positive consequences might include raising awareness about saving the oceans and encouraging others to recycle more. However, bigger social implications might include amendments to environmental laws or better renewable energy projects in the local community.

Social impact assessment isn’t the easiest thing in the world. It’s hard to attribute certain projects to positive social change. But it’s the sheer number of high-quality initiatives and people who care that make a difference in the end.

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What Is the Impact of Social Media on Social Initiatives?

Social initiatives still use traditional means to execute their projects, like doing on-ground events and distributing educational flyers about advocacies. But in the modern age, the digital world plays a huge part in social projects. It’s perhaps one of the most effective ways today to create a social impact on others’ way of thinking.

So, what is the impact of social media (especially Instagram) on initiatives promoting certain advocacies and causes? Here are four ways it helps create positive impacts in society.

1. It Widens Reach for Important Advocacy Campaigns

First, social media helps broaden a social initiative’s reach. Flyers and on-ground events in communities can only do so much. However, posting about your causes on Instagram can help you reach people all over the world. This allows more people to learn about your initiatives and how they can help.

And remember, lots of young people are on social media today. So, advocacies centered on the youth would do great on a platform like Instagram. Mental health awareness campaigns, body positivity projects, and education-focused initiatives are just some programs that might flourish on social media.

This is also perfect for businesses that want their target audience to know about their positive impact on the world. Post about your company’s ethical supply chains, minimal environmental impact, equal pay for men and women, and more. These are amazing positive impacts that will boost positive sentiment for your brand for the right reasons.

2. It Raises Awareness About Pressing Social Issues

Are you worried that not many people are aware of the advocacies you’re passionate about? Talk about them on social media. Important conversations happen in the online space every single day. It’s high time people started talking about the causes you care about, too. So, spark the conversation yourself by raising awareness about these social challenges and issues.

There are plenty of ways to raise awareness and make relevant noise about important social causes. For one, environmental organizations publish educational videos, articles, and infographics about ocean conservation, deforestation, climate change, and more. And who can forget about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, the iconic challenge that raised awareness about ALS disease?

Be as creative as you can when it comes to raising awareness about your social impact initiative on Instagram. Create compelling Reels, tell moving stories on the feed, and engage others in conversation in the comments. The goal is to ensure people have a deeper understanding of what’s happening in the world and how to help.

3. It’s a Terrific Avenue for Fundraising Campaigns

Talking about important, pressing advocacies on social media is an excellent way to raise funds for future projects. Aside from educating others on the causes you’re fighting for, set up a GoFundMe for big charities and organizations. Then, add the link to your bio to get people to donate to those causes.

What’s awesome about getting donations through public platforms is that there’s more transparency about it. People see who donates what to the cause and how much you’ve garnered in donations. It’s also perfect for updating your audience about where the money is going, whether for projects or aid.

A volunteer organizing a table with donation boxes.

4. It’s Where Influencers Speak Up About Social Change Initiatives

Another way to make people excited about advocacies is getting their favorite influencers to speak up about it. Many content creators are passionate about advocacies, too. It’s not all that surprising to see some of them lending their voice to causes they care about. This creates an even bigger impact on whoever your campaign reaches.

For example, popular influencers like Ashley Graham, Spencer Barbosa, and Megan Jayne Crabbe often speak openly about body positivity. Greta Thunberg—teen activist and climate change warrior—is another prominent figure who talks about a cause she cares for.

Because these influential people talk about pressing social challenges online, more and more people hear about it. This drives interest in these issues not just from their fans but also from anyone who comes across their content. It’s undeniable that these creators and celebrities impact and enhance social initiatives in an immense way.

A female influencer recording a video of herself talking with her phone and tripod.

Instagram Is a Fantastic Channel for Your Ideas for Social Change

Are you planning to mount a social innovation initiative to make an impact on the world? Instagram might be one of the best avenues to amplify your efforts. Use the platform to broaden your audience, raise funds, and even work with influencers to make noise about your cause. If it’s a great marketing tool for brands, it’s ten times more awesome for advocacies that can change the world.

Now that you know the answer to the question, “What is social impact?” it’s time to get down to business. Boost awareness about your initiative on Instagram and get more donations, volunteers, and ideas for solving pressing social challenges.

Do you want more eyes on your content focused on the advocacy you’re passionate about? Path Social can help with that. Our proprietary targeting algorithm finds the type of people most likely to be interested in your project. Then, we promote your page to them. Soon, you’ll find plenty of allies for your social initiatives, ready to turn them into a reality for you. Grow your Instagram community today with our help!