Some of the major stories throughout the past year – whether about politics, business, sports, entertainment or otherwise – share a similar theme: all have been impacted significantly by the power of social media.
Consider these headlines, for example:
- Backlash grows over Susan G. Komen-Planned Parenthood flap – CBS News
- Occupy Facebook: Social Network for Protesters in the Works – Mashable
- Bank of America Dropping Plan to Charge Monthly $5 Debit Card Fee – Huffington Post
- What the Arab Spring Taught Journalists About Social Media in 2011 – Mashable
In each case, social media played a significant role in telling these stories. But perhaps even more importantly, social media actually became part of the stories themselves.
The power of social media is undeniable. According to “The Demographics of Social Media,” published by Ad Age and ranked as one of the publication’s five most read posts of 2011, there were more than 155 million Facebook users within the United States. A more recent Ad Age article reports that Facebook currently accounts for 52.1% of sharing (or how online content is shared), while Twitter was responsible for 13.5% of sharing – up 577% in 2011.
Consider the Bank of America scenario or the similar Verizon situation. Both actions were viewed as exercises in corporate greed (profit for profit’s sake) and spurred a prompt and loud public outcry that resulted in tremendous backlash perpetuated through social media. In contrast, the Susan G. Komen organization announced the withdrawal of financial support of Planned Parenthood – a move that was seen as politically motivated. Social media immediately became a hotbed of dialogue about the subject.
In the case of Bank of America, Verizon and Susan G. Komen, the organizations ultimately retracted their original positions and instead found themselves with a bit of a crisis communications situation on their hands…all of which also played out on social media.
The lesson here is that social media helps level the playing field by shifting power back to the consumer. The voice of one can quickly become the voice of many, and there’s power in numbers as demonstrated in the final outcome of each of these scenarios.
Mobile devices = instant news and sharing of information
During some of the more recent political uprisings overseas, social media was the only way in which news of these events reached external audiences. Social media and mobile devices empower individuals to become citizen journalists with the ability to take photographs and record video and share them almost instantaneously with large groups of people via a variety of social media platforms, as witnessed by recent political uprisings overseas. Media as we know it has evolved. Now, everyday men and women have the ability to share their observations and opinions with a potentially massive audience – whether intentional or otherwise.
These examples demonstrate both the impact and the power of social media, as well as the need for organizations to more fully comprehend the speed and reach of communications via these platforms. Being able to anticipate public or consumer reactions is imperative, as is being prepared to handle such reactions. Sound public relations strategies and support can help.
If your company needs assistance navigating the evolving world of social media or the tools necessary to harness the power of social media in order to communicate in a cohesive and an articulate manner, contact Domus. Put our expertise in public relations and social media to work for you. Visit http://www.domusinc.com/ today and be an active part of the conversation that’s taking place in the world of social media.
Amy Whilldin is an Account Director at Domus, Inc., a marketing communications agency based in Philadelphia. For more information, visit http://www.domusinc.com/. For new business inquiries, please contact CEO and founder of Domus, Inc. Betty Tuppeny at email@example.com or 215-772-2805.