Power to the People: New Media has come to the Aid of Revolution

Yesterday I wrote a post on the Digital Journal, entitled, “Revolution and the Power of New Media” My view is that social media will change the way people will act/react against a suppressed regime. It has proven to already change the way these governments react when forced transparency comes into view and the world is watching. It’s already happening in this domino effect we’re seeing in the Middle East. I’ve also posted my article below:

The recent events in Tunisia, Egypt, and now Bahrain and Libya are evidence of how new media is giving rise to a new confidence in suppressed nations.

The ability to collaborate at will, and send messages to the  world at large has provided a strong outlet to an otherwise disenfranchised  population. The world is watching and the power of new tools makes it  increasingly difficult for dictatorships to contain local events and sustain  any kind of propaganda it has created.
I’ve kept an eye on the events in  each of these nations.  Most recently, Libya linking to the most recent news via Google has been the my source for the breaking news from the man-on-the-street.   The constant stream from those caught in the situation is staggering:   Some noted tweets:

Sadly, the situation in Libya has  seriously deteriorated. Gaddafi has turned off the Internet and massacres  across the country have begun.

The massacre in #Libya  is disgusting & shocking. Can only hope it’s the last days of this  regim… (cont) http://deck.ly/~8eyod

u r growing & yr voice is being heard #gadafi    is out of his comfort zone keep the pressure.Millions of the arab  american r behind u

youtube is accessible in Tripoli, please  upload videos now #Libya

Muammar Gaddafi’s son: “We will  fight until the last bullet”  #libya

This past Sunday,  Feb 20th, the US Department of State (Bureaucracy of Democracy, Human Rights  and labor) created a page on Facebook denouncing the situation.

It’s  clear in Egypt, Tunisia and even Libya, that despite the government’s ability  to disable major communication channels, demonstrators are finding ways to  congregate and collaborate with resounding voice, defiant conviction and a  fervor that will not be denied.

Curation allows individuals to  aggregate relevant information wherever it occurs into one application in an  organized framework. I set up an account on Storify and tested this on Friday,  re some rumours about Steve Jobs’ ailing health. I pulled RSS feed using specific key words and applied the same for Twitter  and Facebook. By allowing me to properly sequence the events, this app allowed  me to (within a short amount of time) be an investigative journalist and  validate whether the stated rumour about the 6 weeks left that Jobs  purportedly to had left to live was indeed true. It also allowed me to share  my findings with my networks and provide everyone I knew access to the same  information. This information was critical in the Middle East events and it  has allowed individuals to pull in feeds from Youtube, Flickr, Facebook and Twitter to create a chronologic narrative of all these events and syndicate them.

Another important innovation is Tor.  This  app can be used online and is downloadable on Android phones and claims,  ‘Anonymity Online:  Protect your privacy. Defend yourself against network surveillance and traffic  analysis.” Used by journalists to protect sources of information,  and  “activists to report abuses from danger zones”, this application has proven  critical for Android users to access email, messenger without being tracked or  even blocked.

Tom Hayes of the Huffington Post remarks about a number  of other applications in his post a few days ago. His article gave a practical view of technology and means the common  people were using to make their voice be heard. Even the government’s insane  attempt to go to lengths to mute the voice of the people by disabling the  internet has not weakened individuals. Their voices and the images they’ve  created are loud and clear and it’s there for the world to see.

As I  write this article, Gadaffi is on his way out of Libya. I shed a tear as I  read, “There’s something  extraordinarily helpless about sitting here on Twitter while people are likely  being killed right now in Tripoli. #libya”

And  yet I am encouraged by the fact that I need not rely on tomorrow’s paper to  tell me what is happening now… That we have evolved with journalists and  commoners in a single voice…  A voice made that much more powerful  because of the technology that has enabled, and continues to enable its  amplification. It is so clear that new media is increasingly putting the power  in the hands of the individual, perhaps the much needed innovation that will  radically transforms the way people are governed.

The point here is  this and it’s quoted from a must-read article so well-stated from Macleans.ca: “The revolution is being blogged, tweeted, shot and  streamed by those in the act of making  it.”

How Social Media Challenges Traditional Thinking

I often wonder what was the tipping point for social media? Why is it receiving more attention now than ever? It has always been there and those in the know — whether they are the tech savvy or the digital youth — saw its benefits much sooner than the rest of us.  But now it’s really gone mainstream:

  • Every radio station, newscaster, broadcast media has a Twitter account. My late night TV news station uses it as a crowd-sourcing mechanism to gauge immediate opinion on key news issues;
  • Charities/causes are popping up and its organizers are wising up to the fact that they can raise awareness and donations within hours of launching their campaign;
  • The newspaper industry is dying as consumers increasingly look online to find their news and information for free. As a result, a large scale shift in ad spend is expected in 2009 away from traditional print and broadcast to online. eMarketer verifies this transformation:


  • Marketers have been told that this channel not only offers true measurability but it results in strong customer engagement and sustainability;

For someone like me, whose marketing roots have evolved from traditional mass to direct and database; then to online display, search and now social media –> my profound learning comes in understanding that it is a medium that continues to evolve and has yet to establish standards for marketers. I continue to hear that no one should have the right to call themselves “social media experts” and while I believe that is absolutely true, I will place my bets with those marketers and organizations who are using this medium everyday to establish their brand, and create a true understanding of their customers.  These guys practice what they preach. Other industry notables have gotten their names because they’ve seemingly held the answers to a space that was virtually untravelled by the mainstream. But I have yet to see any validation of their preachings.

Could it be that the new US President Barack Obama will be known as a key instigator in bringing this whole notion to the masses by his very acknowledgement of the pervasiveness and influence of technology and its ability to shape consumer perception and build incredible momentum?  The strength of Obama’s campaign and his revolutionary move into office are based on the ideals set by the Founding Fathers: Election for The People and By the People…. and NOT by the lobbyists or constituents who have traditionally influenced policy and government spend. He has seemingly abolished this practice and has brought on a new idealism of transparency (as per the video: White House 2.0: Social Media and Government Transparency)

As I evolve Ammo Marketing in Canada, the social media space is exciting and yet daunting. I have been able to convince some clients that traditional research does not compare to the unfiltered, unmoderated insights they will get from social media. The very research has opened clients’ eyes who become keenly aware of the honest commentary on their brands: the good..the bad…and the ugly.  This immediately creates a sense of urgency to jump into the conversation and clarify misperceptions and diffuse detractor comments.  Little by little, participation in this new media is slowly revealing its true worth: as a true engagement device that leads to a sustained dialogue and eventual impact on revenue.

One of my staff came to me today and was so excited to be in a ground-breaking and evolutionary space.  As someone who supports client initiatives by participating in relevant discussions, she is delightfully surprised by the willingness of people to embrace corporate presence and engage with them peer to peer with no strings attached. It’s amazing how much people are willing to tell you if you give them the platform to speak.  The results we’ve seen have been immediate. But be warned, it will take some time to fulfill that ROI. Effort must be consistent and committed. Consumers will become your advocates if you continue to maintain that connection and you openly respond to their concerns.

Christopher Barger, Director of Social Media, General Motors (http://twitter.com/cbarger) said it best: Look for the return on conversation…not immediately…but when it comes it will sustain itself long-term.

Redefining the US Political Campaign: Obama’s successful rise to the US Presidency

I had the distinct opportunity to attend the Rotman Lecture series to watch an insightful presentation by Rahaf Harfoush, a key member of Barack Obama’s Campaign that helped reshape the way political campaigns are run.  Ideally, the voice of the people should be represented and to garner that support means listening to their concerns, and persuading them that you will answer those concerns. The Obama Campaign took it one step further: It harnessed this support by arming people with tools to help spread the message and making them feel integral to the campaign.  This provided incredible individual empowerment that caused an explosion of smaller campaigns that fueled the Obama fire. The Campaign unleashed its brand to the masses and the public embraced it and made it stronger.   A great example of this is the Yes We Can Video by Little Will.i.am, an initiative developed by supporters who took Obama’s message, made it their own, and spread the word. It became synonomous with the Campaign and eventually amassed over 14.5 MM views.

For the first time, as far as I know, the financial support for this Campaign truly was bourne out the masses. Traditional political support from constituents  ie the rich, corporate and organized interest groups have strongly influenced and directed the decisions and policies of past presidents.  Could this be the one time that Abraham Lincoln’s view of true government has come to fruition?  “Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.”  I urge you to view this presentation and share it. I think it’s a great model, not only for modern politics, but for modern business.

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