Social media has the power and the ability to change the world. It’s a broad claim, but the proof is in the figures; our good friends at Clicky Media have calculated that 92.6% of the 65 million UK population have internet access and over half of the population are active on social media sites – and this is just the UK, so imagine the numbers on a global scale! Social platforms are continuously developing; we have gone from basic status sharing sites to ones which are now inundated with gifs, memes, user-generated content and ‘reactions’, all of which keep internet users engaged and ‘tuned in’ to the events of the wider world.
Whilst it may seem impossible to change the world with a single click, we beg to differ. Who would have thought that something as simple as tipping a bucket of ice over yourself on social media would be powerful enough to raise over $100m for the ALS Association in just thirty days? The comedic but humane movement reached out to thousands of internet users, and for weeks, our social spaces were overflowing with UGC of people entertaining a mass audience for a better cause. The success of the videos was invaluable – the donations that were made as a result of the challenge funded research that successfully identified a new gene associated with the disease.
In 2014, the hashtag #NoMakeUpSelfie started trending. The hashtag followed an influx of women posting bare-faced selfies, encouraging their friends to do the same by nominating them and asking them to donate £5 to Cancer Research once their selfie had been shared. The most amazing aspect of the campaign is not the content, but its origin. The campaign wasn’t started by Cancer Research, but by a single member of the public. The hashtag then caught on, social media worked its magic, and before we knew it, £8m had been raised in one week.
The impressive volume of internet users has proven to do an extreme amount of good, something which has been seen many times in the recent weeks. From pictures, to hashtags and heartfelt statuses, the UK population showed immense support shown for the victims of the attacks and their families. The attacks sent a digital aftershock globally, and not only was it a space for digital grieving, but also for communities to offer a helping hand, with hashtags such as #PrayForManchester and #RoomsForManchester trending, offering those caught up and stranded in the attacks a safe place to hide, eat, drink and sleep.
The true power of social media can never be underestimated – something which we have learnt to appreciate as a PR agency. Social media combined with the power of the people, and the tools available on social platforms can have a global effect and truly make a difference to lives. At The Source, we’re certain that the power of social media will continue to grow and we hope it continues to have such a positive impact on many individuals and businesses.