A site about social media for social good in Birmingham and using the internet to turn public data into something useful.

The power of social media

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As the Christmas season comes to a close, and we’ve seen the usual traditions trudged out across the globe – there were a couple of elements to this year’s celebrations which didn’t follow the norm and they arose from the power of social media.

Someone once said social media is taking us back to ages forgotten – but in new forms. The campaign across social networks (the Facebook group boasts 1m members) for Rage Against the Machine to top the Christmas chart with their old anthem ‘Killing in the Name’, over X-factor’s deer-in-the-media-headlights Jo McElderry, not only shows the real ability social media has to make change, but has also taken us back to a time when chart battles were a staple feature of advent.

The digital revolution rocked the boat for a while – the music industry worried it was the end of profit and gain and the death of pop band industry. But a couple form Chelmsford, Essex, have proven the public still love real music, and will pay for it online, but force-fed manufactured stardom is not approved by the masses – the ability for the internet to give people an instant voice re-asserts the power of democracy.

The Rock fan who started the campaign told the Guardian:

“I think it just shows that in this day and age, if you want to say something, then you can – with the help of the internet and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. If enough people are with you, you can beat the status quo.”

And again we see this in hyperlocal blogs…a local storm online can be swirled by any local resident with WiFi – they just need a cause, a backing, and somewhere to voice their concern. What better place than on blogs and social networks -  where Facebook groups were once seen as a useless form of identifying oneself – the past twelve months have shown how online frenzies can be just as powerful as picket fences and plackards.

  • In January, President Obama’s Inauguration ceremony saw CNN team up with Facebook to give an unprecedented picture of the world’s reactions to the action – seeing the internet and live broadcasting come together in a new way, and more than 200, 000 people updating their status on CNN – it will be interesting one year on to see how social media is used with the UK’s general election
  • In August two journalists were released from North Korea following a huge Facebook Campaign and the circulation of letters to MPs and heads of state urging them to take action started by the families of both of the detained women
  • In September, Trafigura became one of the hottest trending topics on Twitter following legal firm Carter Ruck’s attempt to impose a super-injunction on the Guardian – with many Twitterers taking putting the ‘Libel is rucked up’ Twibbon on their profile – and #trafigura and #carterruck becoming them most used hashtags.
  • Saturday night TV. I don’t think the networks knew what hit them. Someone thought Saturday night tv was dead but with social networks noisily discussing events as they happened – staying in was the new going out. X-factor saw success take new heights with viewers discussing the show over Twitter and Facebook. Britain’s Got Talent’s Susan Boyle enjoyed a viral rocket to stardom when the YouTube video of her audition was bounced across the atlantic  -  the most watched video od 2009

Gary Hayes’ application shows just how social the web is – it’s when someone works out how to bring their campaign back to the people in power that big changes happen.

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