Have you ever wondered where we would be today if social media had never been established? No more ‘liking’ a friend’s comment or finding primary-school friends on Facebook; tweeting on Twitter; business connections in Linkedin; or videos to keep you entertained in Youtube. No matter how ‘trivial’ some people may find social media, it still seems to be breaking new frontiers in all aspects of life these days!

Without Social Media, Revolutions would take longer

Egypt has decided to de-friend you
Photo © nyuiba.com

Just recently it was announced on memeburn.com that for the first time in 7000 years, Egyptians won the right to democratically elect their president – and a huge emphasis was placed on the important role that social media played in that revolution! “From the outset of the revolution Egyptians took to social media to express their opinions, thoughts and concerns.” During the elections, political images and profile pictures were aplenty; individual’s status updates reflected their political views and opinions; and political Facebook groups and pages sprung up from every corner!

The frenzy continued onto Twitter with hashtags like #Egypt, #Shafik, #Morsy, #SCAF, #Tahrir becoming increasingly popular; and Youtube videos showing the presidential candidates speeches were shared as well! It was even said that “some Egyptians decided to deactivate their Facebook accounts during this period as the information overload coupled with the environment proved to be too much for them!

Without Social Media, awareness opportunities would be missed

With the once-in-a-lifetime viewing of Venus crossing the sun occurring last month (it will only happen again in 2117), thousands were able to watch its journey on dozens of webcasts and even in Google+! In a Google+ hangout, viewers were led by astronomers in an eight-hour marathon as Venus made its epic journey from start to finish!
Youtube videos are even being used to make powerful statements against issues like Domestic Violence. A UK makeup star and personality, Lauren Luke, went and created a video titled “How to look your best the morning after” in order to raise awareness and encourage girls and women not to hide the evidence of domestic abuse. Her provocative video gained over 490 000 views!

KONY 2012 is another phenomenon that occurred on Youtube where a video explaining the barbaric story of Joseph Kony and his child army received 27 million views in 24 hours! People from around the world – both young and old – now know about Kony and the other projects that InvisibleChildren are undergoing.

Kony2012 now has its own site where people can pledge their support (they have over 3.5 million pledges); click on one of the six influential leaders photographs to personally tweet and urge them to commit new resources to end LRA violence; and submit their own photos and videos (the site has over 14 000) showing how they are promoting justice in their own part of the world.

In more light-hearted instances

Social media is also helping radio stations reach bigger audiences by allowing people to tune in via Google Hangout! 567 Cape Talk was the first South African radio station to allow their listeners to view and interact via live-stream on Youtube – which could also be viewed on their phones! The radio’s programming manager, Colin Cullis was amazed that “advances in technology are giving broadcasters the opportunity to find new ways of interacting with its listeners”. After their first broadcast, it was reported that they received over 130 views by 100 unique users, and made the broadcast accessible to anyone anywhere in the world!

Even topics like agriculture have been promoted using channels like Facebook and Youtube! This occurred recently when three brothers from Kansas rewrote the LMFAO’s “Sexy and I know it” lyrics and shot their music video showcasing their farming lifestyle! Their video was only released on the 25 June 2012, and yet it has already gained over 3.1 million views! Their Facebook page has also reached almost 9000 likes!

Their aim was to promote agriculture as they felt that “without agriculture none of us would have food or clothes”. The boys certainly appear to have achieved their goal as they have appeared on FOX News Channel and have even been invited to the FFA convention in Kentucky due to the video’s popularity!

The Social Media Phenomenon

The social numbers are currently standing at: 845 million users on Facebook; 91% of all South African internet users having a Facebook account; 175 million tweets being sent every day; two new members joining Linkedin every second; 10 million users on Mxit – and Pinterest slowly catching up!

Social Media appears to only be gaining in momentum – perhaps you should start questioning how you can also benefit from Social Media?

 You can buy attention (advertising). You can beg for attention from the media (PR). You can bug people one at a time to get attention (sales). Or you can earn attention by creating something interesting and valuable and then publishing it online for free.” David Meerman Scott, Best-Selling Author & Speaker