Social Influence for Social Change: 2 examples

When the world watched the civil uprising in the Middle East, it sparked a whole new discussion of the effectiveness of social media and the part it played to social change. From the ashes of turmoil, came online leaders and influencers who would bring the people together, spark discussion around the world, and bring about change amidst the chaos. In the face of media and internet censorship, social media proved to be the most effective weapon to challenge repression and bring down a regime. This is one of many cases where individuals who are in a position of influence utilize their voice to influence change; these people are social media influencers.

Social Influence for Social Change: 2 examples

So what is a Social Media Influencer?

They are people who garner attention and focus, have a considerable amount of followers, and are actively involved in the online social media space. They create great and unique content, engage with their followers, and influence their followers with a call to action. These individuals wield a unique power of sway to get their followers to participate in helping them.

Wael Ghonim
Wael Ghonim is an Internet activist and computer engineer with an interest in social entrepreneurship.

Going back to Arab Springs, we look at Wael Ghonim, an Google executive who played a key role in the Egyptian uprising. He is credited with the creation of an opposing Facebook page to the Egyptian government, which stimulated the citizens to voice their opinions and demonstrate in the streets together. His call to action was of questioning the government, being active, and working together aided in the collapse of the 30 year Mubarak rule. His influence online led him to be credited as one of Time Magazine‘s Top 100 Influential People of 2011.

The subject on the definition of marriage in the United States has always been a critical topic in politics. It has been the leading discussion amongst Americans as the Supreme Court decides its position on the touchy matter. A small movement online, dubbed the ‘Turn Red’ campaign, asked users to change their profile pictures to a pink equal signs imposed against a red background; an modified rendition of the Human Rights Campaign logo. The popularity of the logo went viral when former Star Trek actor, George Takei changed his picture to the logo. With Takei’s growing popularity online, he was able to influence discussion on the matter, spreading the word, and getting people active.

George Takei

In spite of everything there is no doubt that social media and it’s people have changed the world dramatically. From these two cases alone, we see the sway that social influencers have over a following as they act as a community connector, a stage conductor, and an information source. Like anything else however it has its limitations as well. As the mind share of idea pools in online communities, information is easily distorted or misinterpreted. Popular opinion tends to take shape whether information is true, false or incomplete. As easily as one social cause starts it ends and is quickly forgotten; the majority of users support causes that are deemed popular or trendy at that moment.

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