The Sustainability of Social Media

I have always expected people who truly understand social media to also get sustainability. The two, in my mind are based upon the same principles. Being sustainable is not as simple as using low energy light bulbs, just as having a social media strategy is not a simple case of opening a Twitter account.

Indeed a sustainability strategy for a community of poor sighted people might avoid the use of low energy light bulbs, as their needs require brilliant light. A social media strategy for a technology firm engaged in proprietary systems for a narrow niche may not use any overt social media tools such as Twitter. Their NDA requirements and narrow focus might be better served through using social media tools that assist their customers find, prioritize and personalize their content needs through tagging, bookmarking, rating, and permissions based profiles.

Sustainability involves whole systems thinking. It is based upon four pillars

  • Environment
  • Economic
  • Social
  • Cultural.

A sustainable strategy needs to be infused into every aspect of an organization. It requires integration with existing strategies and it absolutely needs stakeholder buy in, internal and external.

As with sustainability, social media and social media strategy involves the process of whole system thinking and integration. The same four pillars of sustainability can, and indeed should apply.

The open, collaborative and responsive approach found in social media is the same shift in approach that dominates organizations that embrace sustainability. So when I see so many people who truly get social media dedicating a good percentage of their time to sustainable topics, I am not surprised.

I am sure many of you can think of other ways they are aligned, or perhaps you disagree?