The Power of Social Media to Affect Corporates

Social Media, Activism, Brand Awareness, Activism


Recently, Social Media has once again been in the spotlight for its ability to force larger corporates out into the “open”, engaging in public debates and allowing smaller activist groups to force changes on larger corporate institutions. Think of examples like Cell C (Trevor Noah and 4G), Woolworths (Christian Magazines), BP, Gareth Cliff and our favourite…Barack Obama

Social media, by definition, has allowed info-activism (or internet activism) to reach new heights of visibility and accountability from larger corporate participants in the media. This form of global connectivity (Facebook, Twitter, Emails, Websites) have allowed local polarised groups and internal causes to engage with a potentially much larger audience, seeking to swell the support for their cause without people being forced to leave their homes.

So why is Social Media so powerful? In a recent article on, called Why Social Media Is Reinventing Activism, Sarah Keller pinpointed three based elements that showcase the awesome power of the channel:

  1. Social Media allow us to more easily connect with support structures, allowing people to affect social and business changes without bureaucratic support.
  2. Social Media also allows people to co-ordinate their activist activities to a much larger scale. 100 000 people shouting in the same direction does make a difference
  3. It allows you to not only connect easier but also to “shout” much loader
  4. Forces Corporates to consider new levels of accountability, where individual grudges (Dell Hell) or isolated incidents (Nestle) can quickly get out of control

So what should Corporates and brands understand about Social Media to engage appropriately and avoid similar fates as the ones mentioned above. Walter Pike distilled this down into a few great thoughts, which I’ve furtherThank God for Exclusive Books adapted to the below:

  1. Understand, and accept, that conversations about them and their brands are happening as we speak. You can’t changes this, or stop it or move it to a private meeting so either engage with the conversation and gain some level of interaction or burn as they’ll talk about you anyway
  2. Create a community space for your brands to engage with you, Social Media cuts  through a massive amount of red tape
  3. Let the conversation happen, don’t try to through your weight around and don’t react as if the Titanic were sinking every time a random thought pops into someone’s head about your brand
  4. If you have a good service or brand, trust in your consumers to act as activists for you as well.

Other great references on the discussion can be found below:

This blog is being completed as part of the requirements of the Digital Marketing Academy

PS. As a last thought let me include a segment of Gareth Cliff’s response to his level to the president. Simple put, it brillaint!

“What is impressive about this exercise is the increase in the scale of the public debate thanks to the internet. Immediate, insightful, evolving threads of discussion have unwound from the dissemination of the original letter and this is very encouraging. I am pleased to see that so many South Africans care so passionately about our country, regardless of whether we agree or disagree. The old “letters to the editor” means of airing issues of importance has been replaced by an organic, direct and instant forum for conversation. Surely this is something we can be very proud of? Newspapers, radio stations and television seem to lag behind ever more as we all become broadcasters online. Let it never again be said that young people in South Africa are apathetic, disengaged and ill-informed. There are new ways of finding facts, starting arguments and getting to the matters which matter. The Fourth Estate is no longer the province of a few editors and spin-doctors.”


About Marius Greeff
Online marketer for Exclusive Books. Also working on plans for world domination and the perfect pizza

5 Responses to The Power of Social Media to Affect Corporates

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