Digital Marketing Insights

Political Revolution through Social Media

In the past few months we have seen a major shift in the North African and Middle Eastern countries due to a democratic spark that originated from Tunisia. It all started by the self-immolation of a street vendor who set himself on fire after confiscation of his wares and harassment by municipal authorities. After this gruesome tragedy, most people could relate to the hardships imposed by the government and widespread demonstrations were held across Tunisia. This movement created a massive political unrest that ultimately brought down the 23 years of dictatorship in 28 days.

The Tunisian revolution was very closely followed by Wael Ghonim, a Google executive, who had started a Facebook page called “We are all Khaled Said” back in June, 2010. The page commemorated Khaled’s torturous treatment by Egyptian authorities under the emergency law which resulted in his death. It didn’t take long for the Facebook page to become popular very quickly as many Egyptians could relate to the event. There were political discussions and talks about what could be done to deal with such events in future, but more so it was an open platform to share frustrations and provide unbiased feedback.

The events in Tunisia were a mere spark in an already fueled up crowd of a frustrated generation in Egypt that was well networked through the Internet and social media. Collaborating and coordinating a widespread protest was not a problem through the Facebook page. In fact, all it took was a mere announcement and since everyone shared the same ideology on political reform, the result was a tremendous and united outcome. Millions of people protested actively across the country and as a result, once again the people were victorious. Three decades of dictatorship was over within 18 days.

The trend has traversed in to neighboring countries where the repercussions of political revolution of Tunisia and Egypt have shocked other nations. Libya in particular has been on the hotspot where violence has transcended across the borders of Tripoli and other major cities. We all hear the disturbing news of unnecessary civilian casualties as a result of a nation’s war against its own people.

The underlying fact is that such revolutions are being taken place by mostly the youth and people under 35 years of age. This group of people are also the most “connected” segment of the population using communication technologies, primarily the Internet and social media. What they say is heard by many due to the reach that they have using social media and therefore the impact is profound and powerful.

Coming on more familiar turf, just a couple of years ago as we recall President Obama came in to power for a number of reasons. Certainly his prominent message of hope was powerful, but it was the way that it was communicated using infectious social media techniques that made him very popular.

In all social networks Obama had a clear lead. On Facebook for instance Obama gained 10 times the new friends on election day than McCain. On MySpace Obama had 4 times more friends, on Twitter Obama led by more than 20 times more followers and overall Obama had 3 times more blog posts. The result of all this was the highest number of younger voters coming out to vote for Obama.

Governments are accustomed to work and communicate a certain way. Too often we see governments ignoring means of gaining valuable information directly from the people using social media techniques and this results in a delayed response rate. In todays fast paced environment, facilitated by technology and convenience, people are more impatient than ever. Waiting around is simply not an option whether it is for governments or businesses.

Social media has consistently proven that it can facilitate communication and cause change on larger and smaller scales. It is about time we learn to embrace it more effectively so we can be part of change, otherwise we will have to embrace change that we do not want to be a part of.

Mouneeb is an experienced digital marketing strategist with a passion for helping clients achieve their goals online. With over 15 years of experience in designing, developing, and managing a team that develops top-notch web projects, he brings a wealth of information to the teams that he leads and the leaders that he follows.

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