SOCIAL media use has skyrocketed over the past decade and a half. It has changed the way we socialise, conduct our businesses, engage in political affairs, build professions and set job recruitments.
Businesses have greatly been impacted by social media — from marketing to interacting with customers on a timely basis. A business that has embraced the use of social media has a definite edge over its competitors. The online platforms are a less expensive way for businesses to advertise their offerings on a real-time basis and to attract more customers. It has made it easy for businesses to reach out to a wider customer base and improve customer loyalty through different programmes.
Almost a quarter of the world’s population is now on Facebook. Because social networks feed off interactions among people, they become more powerful as they grow.
Thanks to the internet, each person with marginal views can see that he’s not alone. And when these people find one another via social media, they can do things — create memes, publications, and entire online worlds that bolster their worldview, and then break into the mainstream.
Without social media, social, ethical, environmental, and political ills would have minimal visibility. Increased visibility of issues has shifted the balance of power from the hands of a few to the masses.
While social media activism brings an increased awareness about societal issues, questions remain as to whether this awareness is translating into real change. Some argue that social sharing has encouraged people to use computers and mobile phones to express their concerns on social issues without actually having to engage actively with campaigns in real life. Their support is limited to pressing the ‘Like’ button or sharing content.
But a new social media platform aims to buck the trend and blaze a new trail in social networking. ImpactWayv is a social impact networking app company, consisting of thought leaders and doers from across the business, non-profit and technology sectors. It is the first social media platform focused on social good. Other social media platforms may have discussions on social good interspersed with discussion on a whole lot of other topics and they get lost in the shuffle.
ImpactWayv is social media without the fluff and with a conscience. ‘We are focused on making the world a better place and bringing people, businesses and not for profits together to do that. It’s a virtual ecosystem where we’re focused on social good, and we see ourselves as a healthy alternative to existing social media,’ ImpactWayv President George Dolatly told Africa Briefing in a Zoom interview.
The motive behind the concept is altruistic. As Dolatly explains, he and his colleagues recognised that ‘there is so much good to be done in the world, and there’re so many people with good intentions but the organisation isn’t there and the way for people to get together and make their collective efforts worthwhile wasn’t there. So, we took all these good intentions and these disparate groups that are trying to do good and brought them together on a collaborative social media platform to talk about things that are important to them, and to teach each other and exchange ideas. People can use this to get together, to work together to create social good.’
For corporate entities, ImpactWayv is designed to provide an effective platform to showcase their social responsibilities. ‘For businesses, this [corporate social responsibility] is huge and it has been a huge trend in the past few years. Businesses are realising that their constituents are far beyond their shareholders and their responsibility is to the world community. And this is the place where businesses can come on and talk about what they do in terms of corporate social responsibility (CSR), what they’re doing to make the world a better place. And businesses are realising that they need to do this. This is a primary part of their mission – for them to use their resources and influence to create social good,’ Dolatly tells Africa Briefing.
‘One thing that our platform does is provide a means of accountability for multinational corporations with respect to their CSR efforts that they talk about pursuing. It’s one thing to talk a good game and to have good intentions, and quite another thing to carry out those intentions. Our hope is that this social media platform will provide a forum for accountability for those who are interested in social good causes to speak about what the multinationals are doing with respect to those causes,’ Daniel Rubino, Chairman and CEO told Africa Briefing. ‘Especially when a company advertises itself as being focused on a particular cause, in the case of Africa, issues like climate change or poverty or economic self-determination, companies come in and talk about these being values that they espouse, that they want to pursue. Words are one thing, but the interactions that come with this platform will take companies to task if they’re not living up to their values,’ he added.
Taking companies to task is a critical issue in terms of accountability because on a multinational level in Africa or any other continent, the platform provides the opportunity for commitments made to be viewed and those entities could be held accountable on the ground.
‘That is key and I think that has never existed before. So now, all of a sudden, you have a 24/7 simple, elegant technology platform where the promises and commitments that have been made, whether by an NGO, multinational or any other type of organisation, can be looked at, tested and re-tested. People could communicate with others on the ground and around the world generally with respect to whether or not those efforts have been executed,’ Dolatly said.
The third part of the ImpactWayv ecosystem is the not for profit (charity) sector. According to Dolatly, the platform is the ‘one place where the not for profits can come on and make their mission clear and more effective.’ He adds: The individuals who are on the platform are interested in specific causes and can look for not for profits there that deal in those causes. They can look for companies that are pursuing those missions. Companies can interact with individuals and not for profits. This is all meant to exponentially have people work together toward a social good and it’s really meant to make the world a better place.’
‘[ImpactWayv] welcomes all individuals, people of all ages, all interests but with a focus on positivity and making the world a better place. For people to talk about causes and social good topics that mean the most to them and for them to interact with the multinational corporations and the not for profits all in the pursuit of the greater good,’ Rubino stressed.
Executive VP and CTO Benji Bernstein added: ‘Unlike other social media platforms Impactwayv is built with social good and social impact at its core. By placing that at the heart of our platform and by making it what everybody is focused on coming together to do, we are already seeing the kind of reverberations of impact that the technology can provide to people as well as businesses and non-profits who are so driven to tackle some of the big challenges of our time.’
‘At Impactwayv we’re trying to provide a platform that reduces the clutter and people can realise on our platform that we take away the superficial impact, that you can make a difference,’ said Executive VP Karen Cusick. She added: ‘It doesn’t always have to be financial. You can volunteer, you can go on the site and help out. The discoverability, to get out the message and add a bit of hope in a way for people to grab on and do something instead of just talking about it and getting lost in the clutter.
We’ve learned a lot from those platforms and high-tech companies that came before us and we were able to develop this in trying to eliminate some of the unintended consequences of mental health issues and bring people a bit of hope and desire to do something and make a meaningful impact.’
ImpactWayv is already making an impact in the corporate world with some major companies buying into the concept. According to Rubino, the platform is ‘hearing more and more from businesses about how much they feel that we’re filling a major gap for them. We’ve been in touch with a major global media brand who’s getting really interested in our platform and considering joining as a founding member. Basically, their CSR team looked at it [Impactwayv] and felt we were meeting a major need. We’re hearing the same thing from major brands in the Fortune 500 as well as from smaller businesses.’
Bernstein adds that the general reaction the platform is getting is that companies have needed something like this for a long time. ‘They’re thrilled with our explanation about how the platform works, and what it can bring to them in terms of pursuing their CSR goals. There’s a lot of excitement about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it and the fact that we’re bringing something to the table that wasn’t there before, and is sorely needed.’
According to Bernstein, there’s a similarly high level of enthusiasm and excitement from the non-profit sector because ImpactWayv created a much more focused space for social good in a social networking environment. ‘We are discoverable to non-profits big and small.’ He explains: ‘One example is climate change enthusiasts can go to the climate action ‘wayv’ on the platform where they can see all different organisations, both non-profits and businesses, involved in work to advance climate action in different ways. They can filter it by the proximity of these organisations to where they are, by the number of followers, and their ratings. It provides that added level of discoverability and connectivity for these non-profit organisations that really never existed before. And we’re hearing more and more from the non-profits who are joining every week that they’re gaining new donors and followers from this platform because of the focus that it provides.’
Rubino emphasises that the main goal is to provide a technology platform where you can have over 10 million non-profits in the world interact with ImpactWayv users. ‘We want users to advocate for themselves, and we want to be the platform for them to do that just like we want the over 200 million businesses in the world to do the same thing. We want that community of interest to develop with the thesis of social good underlying it.’
In addition to ImpactWayv’s founding member organisations it also has a partnership with a couple of major data organisations in the non-profit and CSR space, and through those partnerships all of the users on the platform have access to a multitude of non-profit and business profiles.
The team behind the platform began working together more than two years ago. They are group of individuals who are leaders in their respective fields with ideas for transforming philanthropy, social good and social media. The platform was launched last summer and the app is available for both Apple iOS and Android mobile phones as well as on the internet.
As an innovative social media platform, ImpactWayv will be most beneficial in Africa where civil society organisations can use it as an effective tool to revolutionise their advocacy and other activities.