Recently you may have noticed many people changed their Facebook profile pictures to the red square originally shared by the Human Rights Campaign representing support of marriage equality. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the public turn to social media to share their opinions and take a stand on a public issue (who doesn’t remember Kony 2012 or internet censorship with SOPA/PIPA?).
It seems social media sites are becoming a major device in political activism. And why not? The power of technology and the ability to share information with the click of a button on social networks helps people feel they have a voice and gives them a medium they can use to band together.
The real-time technology and instantaneous nature of the web allows anyone and everyone to post what they are thinking, when they are thinking it. If enough people think similarly and voice their feelings out onto the internet, their ideas can spread like wildfire. The more an issue hits home for people, the more they will share and comment. If social media conversations are started about a certain issue, and people are telling others to chime in, pretty soon you have viral activism.
Publicly voicing your opinion as a brand is something that should be done with caution. No matter which side you take or how you present your opinion, some people won’t agree. It is definitely a way to develop your online persona or brand by showing your followers where you stand on major issues and what your values are, but it can alienate and lead to a loss of a certain group of your fans. Some companies like Chick-fil-A and Starbucks have decided to publicize their stand and ultimately lost customers because of it.
Awareness of major issues is definitely important (and the social web lets us spread the word quickly), but make sure posting your support for a certain side is the best decision for your brand.