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Louder Online: The Social Media Effect

Leigh Cesanek

January 23, 2018
Leigh Cesanek

“To imagine Rosa Parks with a Twitter account is to wonder how much faster civil rights might have progressed,” Edward Felsenthal, Time’s Editor-In-Chief, said in his article “The Choice,” which explained why Time selected Silence Breakers as Person of the Year. Recently, we’ve seen social movements accelerate through social media.

What started out as a trending hashtag quickly evolved into public discussion everywhere. The #MeToo* movement exemplified the power of social media, as well as the value of a message, which can be as simple as two words, to make a lasting and powerful impression among people everywhere.

As marketing professionals, we understand the potential of social media as a continuously evolving tool used by people everywhere to share content instantaneously. It is our role to understand the ways in which people use social platforms in their daily lives. This helps us better understand how we can use the ‘media’ part of social media. With this understanding, we are able to market messages to highly targeted audiences across platforms to increase brand awareness and promote offerings.

Aside from sharing branded messages, either organically or through sponsored methods, social media can be used for a variety of other reasons – all of which can help us to understand the marketing power of social media beyond tactical branded messages.

In late 2017, we saw the hashtag #MeToo explode across social media. Inviting and urging social change, women and men took to social platforms to share their messages of abuse against women. The goal was to create power by numbers. The more stories shared, the more awareness spread on the social issue.

Twitter reported more than 1.7 million women and men had used the hashtag in 85 countries, according to CNN as of early November 2017. CNN also shared that in Italy, #MeToo was translated to #QuellaVoltaChe or “That time when.” It was also translated in France to #BalanceTonPorc, which literally means “snitch out your pig.”

Facebook reported more than 12 million posts, comments, and reactions to “Me Too” in less than 24 hours by 4.7 million users worldwide in late October 2017, according to CBS News. Facebook reports also stated that 45% of U.S. users had friends posting “Me Too.”

Although we’ve seen instances of other topics and hashtags going viral before, many people began to seriously start asking the question: Can a viral hashtag create social change?

Perhaps one of the most notable examples of viral success was the #IceBucketChallenge. The 2014 social challenge raised $115 million, and $77 million went towards research that has gone on to make notable findings for ALS, according to the ALS Association.

As marketers and advertisers, analyzing social media trends, social movements, and viral stories excite us because the opportunity to share a message that has the power to create meaningful change and impact is even more apparent.

So as we continue to watch, measure, and participate in social movements like #MeToo, it is important to understand that every individual message has the opportunity to be very powerful, meaningful and impactful.

At Princeton Partners, our goal is to create big ideas with lasting value. Big ideas can start out as one tweet or just one hashtag, that can then go on to create lasting value by building awareness, creating organized activism, conducting groundbreaking research, and bringing about change.

*Note: Social activist and community organizer, Tarana Burke, created the phrase “Me Too” on the Myspace social network in 2006 as part of a grassroots campaign to promote “empowerment through empathy” among women of color who have experienced sexual abuse, particularly within underprivileged communities. Burke, who is creating a documentary titled Me Too, has said she was inspired to use the phrase after being unable to respond to a 13-year-old girl who confided to her that she had been sexually assaulted. Burke later wished she had simply told the girl, “Me too.”