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How social media has become the strongest place for change for good campaigns

With the rapid digitisation, it becomes very difficult to comprehend for GenZ about the mode of communication used by their parents – the time when letters were the prime means of staying in touch with friends and family, which often would take at least a week to be delivered. Compare that with the communication at almost the speed of thought today, thanks to Digital.

Social media today has become not just a means to stay in touch with friends and family regardless of geographies and time zones, but also to voice one’s opinion, access the latest news and information, bond with like-minded individuals, make clarion calls for social change, and much more.

The first ever social media website known to humankind was Six Degrees in 1997. This short lived social media platform enabled users to upload a profile and make friends with other users, followed by Friendster in 2001. Post that there were a lot of social media platforms that were made and then discontinued. By 2006, the world was familiar with the social media world, Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. Social networking websites today come in a huge variety, and many of them can be linked together to enable cross-posting. As a result, users can communicate with the greatest number of people without compromising the intimacy of one-on-one interactions.

When people started communicating more through social media, they realised that there are a lot of issues that the people are facing and they are hesitant to come out and speak in public, either due to societal pressure or family pressure or the fact that it is not easy to reach a larger audience. When given a platform where people can come out and speak out their issues to the masses, there were plenty of issues that everyone started realising about what is actually going on in the world.

Gender inequality, racism, unreal beauty standards, wastage of food, pollution, stereotypes, natural calamities, scarcity of natural resources, religious conflicts, corruption and there are a lot more things that we face at a global level were put out on social media.

Social media has helped people to come out and speak about these problems, especially during time of crisis. Much before the Covid pandemic struck, social media came to the rescue during the Mumbai deluge of 2005, with virtual strangers offering help to people stranded on flooded streets. Social media was used extensively during the global pandemic by people desperately looking for hospital beds, oxygen cylinders, financial help, means for people to reach their hometowns as the country went under lockdown. Brands, too, have taken a lot of initiatives to help their consumers fight through these challenging times as the new age consumers are concerned about the image of the brands that they buy. For example, Ariel’s ‘Share the load’ and Prega News’ ‘Good News Is Gender Free’ campaigns have been widely appreciated for their stance on gender equality. Another example is how brands changed their logos in pride colours during the pride month to support the LGBTQIA community.

On the occasion of Social Media Day today, Adgully reached out to some leading experts from a cross-section of the industry to know more about how social media has become a strong platform to bring about change for good through social campaigns. Here’s what they had to say...

Pawan Rochwani, Lead of Community, Events, and Partnerships, Pepper Content:

“The best part about having a presence on social media is that your voice gets to be acknowledged. The platform is by and for the people. However, we saw a new wave ushered in where the users adorned on a warmer outlook for others’ words. In another sense, we became more accepting of contradictory opinions. This is also true in the sense that social media apps have onboarded more people as users. From a global perspective, this means that the platform has observed diversity of representation of the world population. This has further aided in making the space more accepting.”

Saumya Agarwal, Founding member - Head of Strategy, Creative, and new initiatives at IPLIX Media:

“The accountability factor of social media has pushed brands towards purpose-driven campaigns which is bringing a change for the good. There is space for everyone on social media. The question of visibility isn’t a concern since whatever you put out on social media, is there for everyone to see. So the campaigns and communication are more sensitive now. There is more acknowledgement, space, agency & acceptance. Marginalised communities are finding space and ground in the mainstream media. There is a conversation which in itself is powerful. I love how brands are embracing the thought and investing capital in it. This is fairly visible from the number of campaigns we could see around the pride month. Social Media has helped us in talking about difficult things, something that couldn’t be addressed in the house found space on social media. Today it is people’s power, outlet, and livelihood which is monumental.”

Animesh Agarwal, Founder and CEO at 8bit Creatives:

“The superpower that social media has is its capability to amplify a thought, and when a positive message is amplified, change is brought in. Social media allows dialogue, allows amplification, and provides a platform for many marginalised groups. As a result of all of this, noble causes like LGBTQ+ rights, sustainability, anti-racism, equality, inclusivity, and anti-bullying to name a few, have been promoted like never before. Brands have started conscious marketing and have used social media to promote social causes they believe in. In 2019, influencers under the umbrella of 8bit creatives along with other industry influencers raised money for various charitable causes like the Assam Flood victims, COVID patient relief, etc. I personally did a Covid aid donation drive with MPL, with a campaign called ‘Gamers Stand With India’ which led to a collection of 19 lakhs to help covid struck Indians. Currently, our creators are also working with Mamaearth to promote the cause of planting a million trees. With the aim to promote women in Gaming, I recently organised a tournament through social media called Pretty Tough Games for leading female gamers. These are just a few out of thousands of examples out there, and social media is definitely acting as a vehicle of positive change through these campaigns, and providing an outlet to individuals and brands to create change.”

Sagar Nair, Co-Founder & CEO, Qlan, The Gamer's Social Network:

“What began as digital communities for people to connect and communicate has today evolved into universes of their own that virtually decide opinions and outcomes on a global level. Social media has transcended continents and literally made the world a smaller place. Purpose-driven campaigns across the world today have global backing. It does not matter if a prevailing global issue affects an individual directly because opinions are now being shared on a human level. Which is a far larger power than any other that exists. People's power has found a home and the world has found a digital lens of the highest order. Social media is the present and with newer technologies at play, it will continue to mould the future of humanity.”

Varun Sadana, Co-founder, Supertails:

“In the busy streets of digital gullies, it’s the consideration span of consumers that has gone down rather than the attention span. To just earn a buck doesn't win anymore- people subscribe to commerce with purpose. As a petcare company, it would have been easy to stay off the Pride month narrative and just wash our logo with colours. But we built Supertails to be about doing better. And we cannot do that by being compliant to the norm- so we opened up our platform to asking questions, albeit with a twist.”

Bhavishya Bhan, Co-Founder, The Blue Beans Digital Marketing:

“We are witnessing multiple social changes in society, as some might call - the era of revolution, and Social Media has been playing a crucial role in making the voices of people matter. From the onset of the pandemic, we have seen global convergence and virtual communities thriving more than ever. We saw social media becoming the first assistant for sourcing life-saving opportunities for millions during the pandemic. Today, social media is becoming the voice of climate change, sustainability, social issues, and even the fight against warfare. Millions of people are joining such causes online to make a significant change in not just building awareness but also signing petitions and collecting revenue to become active contributors to society.

Platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and even LinkedIn, have become a place for people to openly discuss their opinions on the latest news, political trends, social bills passed, crypto, stock trading trends, and much more. Recently, during the feud between Russia and Ukraine, we saw LinkedIn being used as a platform to help provide employment opportunities to Ukrainians who had fled the country. Such initiatives by online communities and individual activists are some examples of how each one of us can genuinely grow stronger when together. In the last 2 years, where one social issue pondered over the other, social media unleashed its People’s Power as we are the building block of these platforms. It’s appealing to see how, with the right intent, social media is becoming a means to give power, influence, and unify the citizens of the world.”

Hima Bulusu, Associate Director - Key accounts, TheSmallBigIdea:

“For years social media has been perceived as home to only armchair critics, people with lots to say but no action. However, we now have resolute proof that social media can be effectively used to usher in social good. The true strength of social media lies in the hands of people. While there are organisations, brands on social media, it comes down to people; what they wish to see and what they wish to share. This has brought out many grassroots campaigns into the mainstream. From organising protests like Black Lives Matter, entire movements like #MeToo, signing petitions like that of Internet freedom, or even mobilising people much closer home like in the case of Saving Trees in Aarey. And how can anyone forget the impact of social media during the second wave of COVID, where people found help, support, and kinship in the hardest time of their lives. None of this would have been possible without social media. There are so many ‘change for good’ campaigns and movements that were born, amplified, and perhaps even won on social media as it remains the one place where the common person gets a platform to speak, identify, and act on issues that plague them. Social media is not the ‘end all be all’ of every ‘change for good’ campaign though, real action and change does happen in the outside world, but it remains the strongest place to initiate chatter, drive support and mobilise people.”

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