What has become apparent however – just like in the Arab revolution and those that followed – is the vital importance of social media. The simple fact is, today’s technology and social sites like Twitter and Facebook have specific characteristics that enable grassroots political action. To quote Greg Satell, ‘The web was designed with two basic attributes in mind: connectivity and universality, both of which lend themselves to organic political movements.’
The other thing that’s critical when it comes to social media is the fact that it happens in real time. Which means that anything and everything can be instantly disseminated – far ahead of conventional media. So when the powers that be in Oakland decided to use force to remove demonstrators, those images were immediately spread via social networks. This not only encouraged greater empathy for those on the receiving side of the tear gas, but unintentionally serves as a force to build the movement itself.
So how does all of this impact (or what does it have to do with) your brand? The important lesson is about transparency. Simply put, there is no place left to hide. Any attempts to sweep undesirable publicity ‘under the rug’ will fail. If your company is paying workers 35 cents an hour to make your product in some far-away, 3rd world factory, word will get out. On the other hand, if you’re contributing 5% of profits to save the rainforest, that becomes social news as well. Doing the right thing, in effect, pays.
To quote Leonard Cohen, maybe democracy really is coming to the USA. Or from an earlier time: ‘Look what’s happening out in the streets. Got a revolution, got to revolution.’ – Jefferson Airplane, 1968. The only difference now is, the way people get news they can trust is via social media.