As a marketer, I tend to look at things from well… a marketer’s perspective. I see Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and other social networks as great marketing opportunities and a medium for engaging with customers and prospective clients. However, with these recent events around the world – the riots happening in Turkey and the bombings at the Boston Marathon in April, I am reminded of the real power of social networking.
The news of what’s happening in Turkey is shocking and very scary. Having lived in Turkey for a few short months in 2011, this news definitely hits close to home. I loved Taksim Square when I was there, and now it has become a gathering place for protesters. A friend of mine from Turkey first posted of the news on Facebook and through him, I was able to access sites with live feeds, and many articles that educated me on what and why these events were happening. From there, I went to Twitter where I was able to search for tweets from those in Turkey – both reporting updates and those offered up in opinion. The hashtags #OccupyGezi was first started to rally support to save a park but quickly became a way for people to share their thoughts on what was happening.
I first learned of the Boston Marathon bombings through Twitter – and during the course of the day, I was able to follow along with live updates, see tweets from survivors and bystanders, see the horror of the aftermath in pictures and follow along in the search for the culprits. The story came full circle, and in the days that followed, I was able to see the outpour of support for Boston, the tribute sites set up around the city, learn of survivors’ stories and see the many crowd sourcing/fundraising sites that popped up in support of the victims.
It’s hard to deny the real power of social networking. Through Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites, we have a unprecedented level of access to information: up-to-the-minute updates, photos from the scene but most importantly, the people in the stories now have names and faces. Their stories become that much more real and powerful. Social media is a powerful tool – and while we might like to laugh at how much time we waste on Facebook or talk about how ridiculous cyber stalking is, we should not forget the role that social media has played in giving individuals a voice, bringing people together and enabling great change in the world.