Wow. Can you hear that? It’s the sound of hackles rising around the world.
Here’s the thing: social media is not activism. It’s not even a mild protest action. Blogs won’t change the world. Twitter is not going to remove a politician from power. Facebook is not going to sink an multi-national exploitationist corporation.
Social media platforms are not built for that. They’re communication platforms…like email. Fundamentally, you could probably do the same things you do on Facebook and Twitter that you can do with email.
It’s a good bet that everyone you follow (and everyone who follows you) will, for the most part, share your views on a number of issues, political and otherwise. After all, who goes out looking for people to argue with (except maybe a certain local politician who failed woodwork)? So chances are that if you’re a political moderate, most of your followers will buy into this ideology et ceteris paribus.
And that’s no good, because you’re yelling into an echo chamber and hearing your own voice coming back. You’re not changing minds where there are opinions that differ from yours. You’re not growing your movement, building momentum for your cause… You and your followers are a school of guppies swimming in formation around your tank remarking as one on everything even though nothing’s changing
Social media platforms are there to start the revolution. It’s there to find support and build a launchpad for your movement. It’s the catalyst…not the result.
And because it’s a widely-held opinion (proven by history time and again) that there’s no such thing as a bloodless revolution, you’re going to have to hurt just a little bit to make a real change. You’re going to have to confront the very people you disagree with and try to win them over. And the only way to do that is to go to where they are, to meet them on their terms, in their backyards. In marketing terms, you have to make the sale by engaging and converting. That’s how you make a real change.
Social media can be a weapon for change, but on its own it’s not enough. And since there hasn’t been a successful argument for the power of social media over any other kind of marketing platform, I believe that right now, the outlook is that social media will never be enough to effect sustainable change on its own. It will (always) need a powerful off-screen push to make the change happen.
The revolution starts with social media but it’s won on the streets.