Social media has overtaken porn as the number one activity on the web. If Facebook were a country, it would be the world’s third largest, with around 955 million users!
It took radio 38 years to reach 50 million people; TV 13 years; the internet four years; and the iPod three years. It took Facebook only 9 months to reach 100 million users. (mashable.com)
According to trendsspotting.com, 96 percent of Generation Ys (who now outnumber the baby boomers) have joined an online social network.
A revolution in people power is going on as we speak and for the first time in modern history, we can choose our news instead of having it fed to us by a third party. This has huge implications for creating the kinds of grassroots movements needed to spark widespread social change.
However, only in recent times has the momentum of social media broken through the barriers of convention and spilled out into the streets. Literally.
The combination of small concealable video cameras, in many cases our mobile phones, and instant uploading and sharing, has meant that events like the protests in Iran have been watched by most of the world, often just hours after it happened.
There is no longer any excuse for not knowing what is going on the world – and doing something about it.
Google has become the portal we use to access any and all information available. And their ‘Don’t be evil’ slogan was put to the test in their showdown with China where they have pulled out their potentially billion dollar deal over censor ship issues.
But not all media and software companies have made the transition to the internet with their morals intact – if they ever had them.
MySpace, the first large-scale social networking site, acquired by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp in 2005, has since experienced a decline in users and credibility due to the rise of more accessible and family-friendly social media websites.
And from Rupert’s recent statements on Telegraph.co.uk indicating his desire to monopolise the internet, and to cease indexing his news sites in Google, he clearly does not understand the shift that is going on. Even Bill Gates is struggling to adapt to the open source and free environment that is the internet.
They are scared because they cannot control it. And we, the people, are no longer subject to the old channels of media and information. We are free to find sources that we trust for news and information.
With so much information though, many of us can get overwhelmed. Finding trusted sources becomes paramount. Ultimately though, you have to be critical in your thinking and intelligently filter what you read and expose yourself to, no matter what the source is.
So, how can social media bring about social change?
User Generated Content
Every day, people upload videos, articles and comments, creating a place where anyone can express their views and engage with others without interference.
Organisations like Greenpeace have managed to harness social media to create campaigns that have captured people’s imaginations.
In late 2007, Greenpeace were tracking a humpback whale in the South Pacific with a satellite tag as a part of its Great Whale Trail Expedition, a response to Japan’s Fisheries Agency plan to kill 50 humpback whales.
The whale’s name was chosen in an online poll that garnered attention from several websites, including Boing Boing and Reddit. It quickly became an internet meme (a catchphrase or concept that spreads virally from person to person on the internet), and later was the subject of a TED talk by reddit co-founder, Alexis Ohanian (www.ted.com).
His name? Mr Splashy Pants!
Alexis Ohanian: How to make a splash in social media
The rise of real-time search, lead by Twitter.com has created an up-to-the-minute news medium, where people can be informed minutes after an event. When the earthquake happened in Haiti recently, the news broke first on Twitter.com and became a trending topic for weeks as the relief aid flooded in.
Many of the main news networks now have Twitter accounts and the possibilities for things from customer support to real- time news reporting are being explored by businesses, the public and governments.
In the wake of the NSW fires, the Australian government has made moves to implement an early warning system on sites like Facebook and Twitter.
The point is that when people like you and I get involved and support these kinds of initiatives by either spreading the word, signing petitions or donating money, it can make a difference. A showing of solidarity and online activism can influence government decisions…but only if enough of us get involved.
So jump in to the social media and online revolution and let your views be known.
Traffic and chances to build your business can come from any angle. Keep an eye out for ways you can get involved in your local community both on and offline. If there’s something you feel strongly about and you have skills to lend to the cause, you can collaborate with other people in creative ways to bring awareness to something and as a result more people will find out about your business.
For example in 2010/11 my record label was asked to create 2 songs for Greenpeace videos. It was a donation of time and energy and in the process many more people came to discover our independent record label.
Keep your eyes and mind open for these opportunities!
Websites to check out:
- www.Truthdig.com – Stands out as a modern sceptic’s look at the news.
- www.Current.com – Amateur filmmakers and documentary makers submitting videos for user ratings. News for and by the people!
- www.news.bbc.co.uk – BBC News still seems to be maintaining a more mainstream integrity as well.
- www.Ted.com – Awesome thinkers and doers giving seminars on everything from biology to engineering and spirituality.
- www.AshesandSnow.org – Beautiful, inspiring images of animals and people in harmony presented as a wonderful flash exploration.
Social Media and Technology
- www.Mashable.com – A slightly geeky but cool site for social media enthusiasts.
- www.TechCrunch.com – Find out all the latest developments in technology.
photo credit: chris.corwin via photo pin cc
photo credit: dalechumbley via photo pin cc
How have you seen this play out recently? How could you tap into a larger audience by working with other social groups?