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Social Media:
The Power to Make an
Impact
By Luke Belfry
Social media empowers
individuals, communities,
and organizations to make
real social, economic, and
other positive impacts
both locally and globally.
When unethical and stereotypical consumer products are sold at stores, this enrages
customers [6].
However, social media can powerfully connect causes and the people who support
them [3].
Consumers like Lauren Todd can
spread awareness with their
networks through online
petitions and angry Facebook
messages about issues like sexist
shirts being sold [6].
After 13 hours of Todd’s
campaign, the store J.C. Penney
pulled the shirt and promised to
review their product choosing
policy [6].
This suggests awareness empowers citizens to challenge
organizations and can inspire immediate real-world
impact and organizational policy changes [6].
Social media has the
power to connect
causes, such as unfair
epi-pen pricing, with
millions of people by
grabbing the attention
of influential leaders
and politicians who
can relate to the issue
[10].
Online petitions and
hashtag twitter
campaigns such as
#EpiGate have the
ability to reach these
leaders [10].
In the case of #EpiGate,
senators responded by
launching government
inquiries and reaching
millions of followers [10].
This suggests social
media can create real-
world action and amplify
the awareness of an issue
by engaging influential
leaders [10].
However, sometimes
petitions and hashtags
aren’t enough. In a
different example, the
Kony 2012 campaign
successfully utilized
emotional videos and
posters to gain 87,000
Facebook likes, 3.5
million pledges, and
over 100 million views
on Youtube [1].
This resulting
engagement
suggests that
social media
can spread
global
awareness by
sharing visual
stories with
viewers that
trigger
emotional
impact [1].
Unfortunately, only 25% of those
who “like” and become aware of a
cause through social media
actually make real lasting changes
in their lives [3]. As a result, critics
believe social media clicktivism
and awareness aren’t enough to
create real change without offline
action.
However, every little bit of engagement adds up and awareness
“always does something — something small, perhaps, but
something measurable [5]”.
In the case of the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, the 800%
increase in donations may have been temporary, but its
clicktivism brought awareness to a cause many wouldn’t
otherwise know about which attracted new attention to
related offline campaigns [5].
As a result of
its ability to
increase
awareness,
social media
can also
empower
organizations
such as the
police to
collect and
find vital
information
very quickly.
Virginia State police were able to make an arrest within hours after requesting information on
a fugitive and receiving an immediate outpouring of information from their 16000 Facebook
followers [9]. This suggests the ability of social media to collect information can positively
impact the safety, protection, and security of our local communities.
In addition to
promoting social
change, social media
can be used to make
positive economic
impacts for citizens in
need through
crowdfunding by
collecting small
amounts of money
from a large amount
of people [7].
As a result of reaching out to family and friends on social
media, crowdfunding has contributed millions of dollars
towards education costs for students in economic need,
including college tuition [4].
Art, research, and film projects that would be financially impossible, like
Monica Zinn’s documentary on teen self-harming and Jennifer Gee’s
quail research, are now becoming possible through crowdfunding by
connecting the interest graph [8] [2]. Zinn raised $7,240, with 70% of
donors being artists or people with personal experience of self-harm [8].
Money aside, social
media crowdfunding
empowers others by
involving and
engaging donors in
the project. Zinn
collaborated with
artist donors who
contributed music
and art, while Gee
offered quail
adoptions and books
to donors, keeping
them interested
throughout the
project [2][8].
Finally, by engaging many donors, crowdfunding significantly empowers
entrepreneurs establishing new businesses by providing market validation, brand
awareness, and a large, loyal customer base [7].
Therefore, whether social media is used to spread
awareness, raise funds, or collect information, it
empowers people to positively impact our society.
Works Cited
1. Bresciani, Sabrina, and Andreas Schmeil. "Social media platforms for social good." 2012 6th IEEE International Conference on Digital Ecosystems and
Technologies (DEST) (2012): 1-6. Web. 27 May 2017. http://ieeexplore.ieee.org.proxy.queensu.ca/document/6227944/?section=abstract.
2. Lin, Thomas. "Scientists Turn to Crowds on the Web to Finance Their Projects." New York Times 12 July 2011: D3(L). Academic OneFile. Web. 27 May
2017.
http://go.galegroup.com.proxy.queensu.ca/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=queensulaw&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA261128506&asid=7c55c877ec1800 46820
0ee6dc6181ac2
3. Kielburger, Marc, and Craig Kielburger. "Global Voices: 'Liking' must be followed up with real-world action." Times Colonist. N.p., 12 Apr. 2015. Web. 27
May 2017. http://www.timescolonist.com/life/global-voices-liking-must-be-followed-up-with-real-world-action-1.1820728.
4. Blackman, Andrew. "Tuition due? Time to Hit Up Everyone You Know; Crowdsourcing Allows Students to Raise Part of the Money with a Little Help from
their Friends." Wall Street Journal (Online). Nov 02 2015. ProQuest. Web. 27 May 2017.
5. Sharma, Ritu. "Stop Pouring Ice on Clicktivism." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 20 Aug. 2014. Web. 27 May 2017.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ritusharma/stop-pouring-ice-on-click_b_5692555.html.
6. Bell, Melissa. "Change.org fuels grass-roots campaigns with social media." The Washington Post. WP Company, 09 Sept. 2011. Web. 27 May 2017.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/changeorg-fuels-grass-roots-campaigns-with-social-
media/2011/09/06/gIQAXxgEFK_story.html?utm_term=.5bd71c7a938d.
7. Glinska, Gosia. "Ice cream start-up licks its capital needs through crowdfunding campaign." The Washington Post. WP Company, 28 Nov. 2014. Web. 27
May 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/ice-cream-start-up-licks-its-capital-needs-through-crowdfunding-
campaign/2014/11/27/711512fc-741a-11e4-9c9f-a37e29e80cd5_story.html?utm_term=.0812b911f624.
8. Ravindranath, Mohana. "She financed her documentary by playing to the crowd." The Washington Post. WP Company, 07 Mar. 2013. Web. 27 May
2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/on-small-business/using-crowdfunding-to-fund-and-market-documentary-
films/2013/03/07/195ddbbc-7c8b-11e2-a044-676856536b40_story.html?utm_term=.b29c43b6f5c0.
9. MacDonald, Gregg. "Fairfax County police tap social networks to nab criminals." The Washington Post. WP Company, 29 Apr. 2010. Web. 01 June 2017.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/28/AR2010042802327.html.
10. Parker-Pope, Tara. "How Parents Harnessed the Power of Social Media to Challenge EpiPen Prices." The New York Times. The New York Times, 25 Aug.
2016. Web. 27 May 2017. https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/08/25/how-parents-harnessed-the-power-of-social-media-to-challenge-epipen-prices/.

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Social Media: The Power to Make an Impact

  • 1. Social Media: The Power to Make an Impact By Luke Belfry
  • 2. Social media empowers individuals, communities, and organizations to make real social, economic, and other positive impacts both locally and globally.
  • 3. When unethical and stereotypical consumer products are sold at stores, this enrages customers [6]. However, social media can powerfully connect causes and the people who support them [3].
  • 4. Consumers like Lauren Todd can spread awareness with their networks through online petitions and angry Facebook messages about issues like sexist shirts being sold [6]. After 13 hours of Todd’s campaign, the store J.C. Penney pulled the shirt and promised to review their product choosing policy [6].
  • 5. This suggests awareness empowers citizens to challenge organizations and can inspire immediate real-world impact and organizational policy changes [6].
  • 6. Social media has the power to connect causes, such as unfair epi-pen pricing, with millions of people by grabbing the attention of influential leaders and politicians who can relate to the issue [10]. Online petitions and hashtag twitter campaigns such as #EpiGate have the ability to reach these leaders [10].
  • 7. In the case of #EpiGate, senators responded by launching government inquiries and reaching millions of followers [10]. This suggests social media can create real- world action and amplify the awareness of an issue by engaging influential leaders [10].
  • 8. However, sometimes petitions and hashtags aren’t enough. In a different example, the Kony 2012 campaign successfully utilized emotional videos and posters to gain 87,000 Facebook likes, 3.5 million pledges, and over 100 million views on Youtube [1].
  • 9. This resulting engagement suggests that social media can spread global awareness by sharing visual stories with viewers that trigger emotional impact [1].
  • 10. Unfortunately, only 25% of those who “like” and become aware of a cause through social media actually make real lasting changes in their lives [3]. As a result, critics believe social media clicktivism and awareness aren’t enough to create real change without offline action.
  • 11. However, every little bit of engagement adds up and awareness “always does something — something small, perhaps, but something measurable [5]”.
  • 12. In the case of the ALS Ice Bucket challenge, the 800% increase in donations may have been temporary, but its clicktivism brought awareness to a cause many wouldn’t otherwise know about which attracted new attention to related offline campaigns [5].
  • 13. As a result of its ability to increase awareness, social media can also empower organizations such as the police to collect and find vital information very quickly.
  • 14. Virginia State police were able to make an arrest within hours after requesting information on a fugitive and receiving an immediate outpouring of information from their 16000 Facebook followers [9]. This suggests the ability of social media to collect information can positively impact the safety, protection, and security of our local communities.
  • 15. In addition to promoting social change, social media can be used to make positive economic impacts for citizens in need through crowdfunding by collecting small amounts of money from a large amount of people [7].
  • 16. As a result of reaching out to family and friends on social media, crowdfunding has contributed millions of dollars towards education costs for students in economic need, including college tuition [4].
  • 17. Art, research, and film projects that would be financially impossible, like Monica Zinn’s documentary on teen self-harming and Jennifer Gee’s quail research, are now becoming possible through crowdfunding by connecting the interest graph [8] [2]. Zinn raised $7,240, with 70% of donors being artists or people with personal experience of self-harm [8].
  • 18. Money aside, social media crowdfunding empowers others by involving and engaging donors in the project. Zinn collaborated with artist donors who contributed music and art, while Gee offered quail adoptions and books to donors, keeping them interested throughout the project [2][8].
  • 19. Finally, by engaging many donors, crowdfunding significantly empowers entrepreneurs establishing new businesses by providing market validation, brand awareness, and a large, loyal customer base [7].
  • 20. Therefore, whether social media is used to spread awareness, raise funds, or collect information, it empowers people to positively impact our society.
  • 21. Works Cited 1. Bresciani, Sabrina, and Andreas Schmeil. "Social media platforms for social good." 2012 6th IEEE International Conference on Digital Ecosystems and Technologies (DEST) (2012): 1-6. Web. 27 May 2017. http://ieeexplore.ieee.org.proxy.queensu.ca/document/6227944/?section=abstract. 2. Lin, Thomas. "Scientists Turn to Crowds on the Web to Finance Their Projects." New York Times 12 July 2011: D3(L). Academic OneFile. Web. 27 May 2017. http://go.galegroup.com.proxy.queensu.ca/ps/i.do?p=AONE&sw=w&u=queensulaw&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA261128506&asid=7c55c877ec1800 46820 0ee6dc6181ac2 3. Kielburger, Marc, and Craig Kielburger. "Global Voices: 'Liking' must be followed up with real-world action." Times Colonist. N.p., 12 Apr. 2015. Web. 27 May 2017. http://www.timescolonist.com/life/global-voices-liking-must-be-followed-up-with-real-world-action-1.1820728. 4. Blackman, Andrew. "Tuition due? Time to Hit Up Everyone You Know; Crowdsourcing Allows Students to Raise Part of the Money with a Little Help from their Friends." Wall Street Journal (Online). Nov 02 2015. ProQuest. Web. 27 May 2017. 5. Sharma, Ritu. "Stop Pouring Ice on Clicktivism." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 20 Aug. 2014. Web. 27 May 2017. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ritusharma/stop-pouring-ice-on-click_b_5692555.html. 6. Bell, Melissa. "Change.org fuels grass-roots campaigns with social media." The Washington Post. WP Company, 09 Sept. 2011. Web. 27 May 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/changeorg-fuels-grass-roots-campaigns-with-social- media/2011/09/06/gIQAXxgEFK_story.html?utm_term=.5bd71c7a938d. 7. Glinska, Gosia. "Ice cream start-up licks its capital needs through crowdfunding campaign." The Washington Post. WP Company, 28 Nov. 2014. Web. 27 May 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/ice-cream-start-up-licks-its-capital-needs-through-crowdfunding- campaign/2014/11/27/711512fc-741a-11e4-9c9f-a37e29e80cd5_story.html?utm_term=.0812b911f624. 8. Ravindranath, Mohana. "She financed her documentary by playing to the crowd." The Washington Post. WP Company, 07 Mar. 2013. Web. 27 May 2017. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/on-small-business/using-crowdfunding-to-fund-and-market-documentary- films/2013/03/07/195ddbbc-7c8b-11e2-a044-676856536b40_story.html?utm_term=.b29c43b6f5c0. 9. MacDonald, Gregg. "Fairfax County police tap social networks to nab criminals." The Washington Post. WP Company, 29 Apr. 2010. Web. 01 June 2017. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/28/AR2010042802327.html. 10. Parker-Pope, Tara. "How Parents Harnessed the Power of Social Media to Challenge EpiPen Prices." The New York Times. The New York Times, 25 Aug. 2016. Web. 27 May 2017. https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/08/25/how-parents-harnessed-the-power-of-social-media-to-challenge-epipen-prices/.