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New MTV Social Net Capitalizes on Youth Idealism

By Walaika Haskins
Sep 21, 2007 1:10 PM PT

MTV, the teen-centric network focused on reality TV, the luxurious lifestyles of the rich and famous, and the occasional music video, announced the beta launch of Think.MTV.com Thursday. The network called the site an effort to give teens and young adults a community through which they can do good works within their local, national and global communities.

New MTV Social Net Capitalizes on Youth Idealism

The one-time music video channel envisions the site, dubbed the "Think Community," as a one-stop online shop for youth activism, offering resources and a rallying point for change-minded young people.

"The Think Community was built to catalyze a sea change in youth activism and make rock stars out of those young people working to better themselves, their communities and the world," said Christina Norman, president of MTV. "We're honored to partner with forward-thinking foundations, non-profits, celebrities and America's youth on this powerful new platform for positive social change.

Activism, Anyone?

MTV is no stranger to activism. The channel has a long history of campaigns designed to prompt its viewers to examine their world and take action to change the things they can -- think "Choose or Lose" and "Rock the Vote." However, the genesis for ThinkMTV came as a result of a ThinkMTV study, "Just Cause," in which 80 percent of respondents said that "taking action to help their community and others is important and the right thing to do." However, at the same time, only 19 percent considered themselves "very involved."

Social networking and social media in general allows for a more engaging experience, said John Barrett, an analyst at Parks Associates, and some consumers want that.

"If you leverage that in the right way, you can make the service you offer better for everyone by coming up with little ways of enhancing a more passive experience by leveraging the passions of more engaged consumers," he told TechNewsWorld.

"What is interesting about what MTV has done is it is not directly related to music and music videos," he continued. "It isn't, 'Come tell us about your favorite bands and concert experiences' and stuff like that. It is more tangential to that."

Instead, MTV is relying on a sense of social entrepreneurship to try and encourage the nation's youth to become involved in its present and future issues.

Non-Profits, Celebs On Board

On ThinkMTV, the music channel takes some of the biggest names in pop culture and throws in a healthy helping of the country's top non-profits and civic organizations to inspire teens and young adults to spend time trying to address the pressing social issues of the day.

Members can check out what's going on with present and future projects at a variety of organizations, including the United Nations, The Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Malaria No More, Strong American Schools and the President's Volunteer Service Award. They can also join the pet cause of their favorite celebrities, such as Bono, Reggie Bush, Nick Cannon, John Legend, Rosario Dawson and Shakira, just to name a few.

MTV has partnered with philanthropic heavy hitters the Case Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Goldhirsh Foundation and MCJ Amelior Foundation on the site.

Change Makers

Young people can go to the site to learn the ins and outs of complex issues or stay abreast of breaking news at "Get Educated," the community's home for a bevy of multimedia content like videos, blogs, socially-conscious video games, podcasts, news reports and pictures uploaded from its members, ThinkMTV and MTV News.

Once they have the lowdown on their issue of choice, ThinkMTV members can connect to relevant organizations. The site, said MTV, "is a national crossroads where young change makers can leverage their collective talents to amplify their impact" through a variety of online meeting places.

Users will be able to make their voices heard and promote their causes by creating personal platform pages. The pages and any attached friends are portable, meaning members can take their profiles with them to any site in the Flux Network.

They can also view, comment on and then rate the site's video and audio content, as well as images, blogs, forums and games. Eventually, MTV said, the uploaded content will be available on its other online and mobile platforms, including MTV and its 90 million viewers. Users can also earn "Action Badges" that they can redeem for prizes, national exposure and other goodies.

For those not content to merely mouth off, the site also offers young activists simple ways they can take action on key social issues and network with likeminded youngsters. Users can register to vote, petition Congress and volunteer time. ThinkMTV also gives its members the option of creating an Action Project or joining one already begun by a celebrity, a leading social activist or a Think Community member.


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