We have witnessed over the past year the power of social media to bring change. We’ve seen governments topple in a matter of weeks (for good or bad). We’ve been amazed at the speed of information as normal people in the middle of situations bring the real story, pictures, video and commentary to us faster than professional journalists.
In the past week, I’ve enjoyed watching two examples of the power of social media – one fictional and one real.
The fictional example came when watching the TV show The Good Wife – not one I normally watch, but one that happened to be sandwiched between others I wanted to see one night. In that story, a policeman stopped the 17-year-old son of the main character and escalated the situation into trumped-up charges. Eventually, the teenager’s family gathered enough info and video to discover the truth. Then the teenager used his Internet, video and social media skills to expose the false charges. After half a million hits of the YouTube video, the charges were dropped and the policeman was instructed to call the boy and apologize for his actions. Although the story was fictional, it could easily be played out in real life.
The real example was closer to home. My social media team at work had to chuckle when we realized that our ill coworker was using the power of social media to move to the front of the line in a medical facility’s waiting area. After a few timely, blunt tweets about the center’s care, he was acknowledged and taken care of. It may not have made others in the waiting area happy, but it showed the power of social media to get results.
Some may not like the shift in power that comes with social media, especially those who no longer control communications because of it. However, I think it’s a great thing that the average person has at his fingertips the ability to draw attention to any issue. Sure, it can be used for dastardly deeds as well, but that is the risk of more open and available communications. It’s a risk I’ll gladly take.
Leap year lesson #276 is Embrace the power of social media.