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Friday, July 1, 2011

Social Media: The Good

Social Media?  Well, this refers to the use of  technology as a medium for interaction. Yeah! Twitter, Facebook,  Bebo, My Space. Whatever it is that rocks your boat all fall under that umbrella. These days, it's rare to find people who don't make use of Social Media. That's probably the greatest testimony of how importnat it is to wider society.

Ask anyone in Media, Business, Politics, Advertising and the numerous industries that rule our worlds and they'll tell you the web is a very significant influence and definer of their official policies. Barack Obama's rise to power was helped largely through the use of Social Media. One instance being the use of YouTube in documenting the campaign trail with one particular video 'Yes We Can' featuring celebrities like Will.I.Am, Scarlett Johannsson, Common, John Legend and Herbie Hancock reaching 10 million views within a month. The video of one particular speech reached  1.3 million views in a day. The Obama Campaign Team were also able to use Yahoo Answers into gauging public attitudes. Facebook wasn't left out in helping Mr Obama rise to power. Numerous forces built from Facebook groups were able to carry out grassroots campaigns. Social Media platforms were also used in generating funds with $6 out of $25 million of revenue gained in the first quarter of 2007 being raised through on line channels.

 Yes We Can!

News organs and Personalities of note also make use of Social Media. Why? It's the quickest and most efficient way of getting news out. Not to forget, it's very cost effective. Of what cost is it to the New York Times to set up a Twitter account? It doesn't need to pay anyone anything. Followers would come easily. All it has to do is post links to its news items. Hits would go up and help it gain revenue as ad's would become sought after. And News is spread instantaneously.

For celebrities, it saves them the displeasure of having to sit through an interview with some 65 year old man whose mouth stinks and shows no regard for privacy with intrusive questions. It's also easy to dispel any misinformation making the rounds. Rio Ferdinand made use of Twitter in highlighting the manipulation of old quotes of his by the papers. It's also a simple form of interacting with fans. One can hold question and answer sessions. As a matter of fact, as I write this article Eldee's holding one using the hashtag '#Questions4Eldee'. Some also do giveaways to reward their supporters.

Social Media gives power to the powerless. Earlier this year, revolutions were taking place left, right and centre. The rise and growing  prevalence in the use of social media as a way of expressing displeasure. In Egypt, the collaboration by Google and Twitter in launching Speak to Tweet restored Egypt to cyberspace, after the Government's attempt at suppressing the people by allowing voice mails in Arabic to be shared to the world at large.

Whether you like it or not, Social Media influences our lives significantly and it's here to stay. The sooner we accept it, the better.

P.S Just as I was about to  hit 'Publish Post' on this, News came in that Barack Obama shall hold the first of its kind White House Twitter Town Hall where he'll answer tweeted questions on Wednesday at 2pm. Ever questioned the importance of Social Media?

This was written for the Technology site Technesstivity.


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