We have had powerful social media outlets now for over a decade. Most of us have gotten used to them and some of us have grown tired of them. But let me take a moment to remind everyone that social media is power. If utilized correctly, the power it can provide is almost limitless. People, images, ideas, agendas, songs, games, etc., all have the ability to be in front of millions of people, literally overnight if the messages goes “viral”.
Paul J. Meyer said “Communication – the human connection – is the key to personal and career success.” Bill Gates said “I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they’re interested in.” Both of these statements are true. So think about what social media actually provides us.
In regard to communication, social media offers a unique advantage in several ways. To begin with, you do not have to personally communicate the message to each and every person who might see it. The people you have originally communicated with are the ones who are communicating it to others by simply passing it along to people they think would be interested in the message.
Individually, a person can damage a company or other large organization because of a “shock story” they can provide about them. Mass distribution of documents, videos, or even comments on a personal experience can be far reaching. This is why reviews can be so powerful. The idea of whistle-blowing for example, has a whole new meaning in the world of social media.
Social media also allows individuals to connect and organize with smaller groups and allows smaller groups to connect and organize nationally (Hiar, 2010). This creates power for the people against the abuses of governments, corporations, and other large entities. Not only does this allow the people to hold these large groups accountable, it allows people to gain access to the information extremely fast (Shirky, 2011). Often times, it is communicated faster than the organization can plan or address the unexpected opposition. What this means for us is that social media can almost be weaponized.
On the other hand, a company or large organization can gain power by listening and reacting to the people (Wolf, 2013). If people are commenting on a product or service, the company can gain power by listening to the message and actually doing something about it (either good or bad). If the people are upset by the actions of a politician/law/action, the government can gain trust by handling the situation to a positive end. By reacting, publicly if necessary, the organization demonstrates their willingness to correct mistakes or flaws and can ultimately gain trust in the people they seek to either lead or sell.
Social media can be a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Of course you can post a picture of your dinner or your cat. However, you can also impact and initiate change with it. Of course… you probably already knew that.
So why am I writing this? I’m writing this because what people often forget is that for a powerful message to reach others, it requires that people actually say something or share something. All of those powerful tools are worthless if you’re not brave enough to either speak up or stand up for what you believe in and then hit the share button. Furthermore, an organization may not understand that there was a problem and cannot fix your problem if you don’t make it known to them.
If you want to be the difference and you want to see a difference… then you need to act; not just agree.
Hiar, C. (2010, October 28). MediaShift. PBS. Retrieved , from http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2010/10/how-the-tea-party-utilized-digital-media-to-gain-power301/
Shirky, C. (2011, January 1). The Political Power of Social Media. Global. Retrieved , from http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/67038/clay-shirky/the-political-power-of-social-media
Wolf, M. (2013, February 18). Customer’s are gaining power through social media – exploreB2B. exploreB2B. Retrieved , from https://exploreb2b.com/articles/customers-are-gaining-power-through-social-media