The rise of social media has brought many changes in the way our society views and consumes news and entertainment and in the way people connect with others. But has social media itself brought about the ability to act on social issues and create change? Many would phenomena such as Twitter activism and social media revolutions confirm the societal benefits of social media. But there are also societal benefits to social media use on the level of individuals.

Let’s Heal, an independent non-profit organization located in Amsterdam, recently conducted a survey of 24,000 consumers from 16 different countries and found that people engaged in social media are more likely to be helpful to others both online and offline. This prosocial tendency—helping other by doing good—also extended to consumers’ spending habits and professional lives. As compared to those less engaged in social media, savvy social media users preferred purchasing products from prosocial brands and preferred working for prosocial companies.

Although this study found a relationship between prosocial tendencies and social media use, it is not clear whether social media makes people “nicer” or if “nicer” people are more likely to be savvy social media users. Regardless, online social media platforms provide a unique opportunity for individuals to connect and help each other.

Wish Upon A Hero, an online platform founded in 2007, creates such opportunities. This social platform allows users to post or grant wishes and uses crowdsourcing to determine which wishes should come true. Anyone can browse through the wishes posted on Wish Upon A Hero, each of which is classified as a “need” or “want.” And anyone—an individual, organization, or company—can be a wish granter, choosing to either help anonymously or be credited for their contribution.

Since 2007, more than 78,000 wishes have been granted. And Wish Upon a Hero has helped these wishes come true by connecting people in need with others who can help. The platform is supported by a non-profit foundation under the same name that helps promote such connections and also grants wishes by providing services, scholarships and grants. To learn more about Wish Upon A Hero visit their website or Mashable.

With social media platforms dedicated to helping individuals, groups and charities, as well as individuals choosing to help others on their own through their social media use, it seems the societal and social benefits of social media are only beginning to emerge.

In the wake of natural disasters and political revolutions, social media has played its part. Do you think social media helping platforms will be able to have an actual impact? How can brands and organizations use such platforms in their community and consumer relations efforts? And does using social media actually make us nicer?