By Katie Cray
Social Media Week took over many foremost corporate headquarters and top minds of New York City for five days in February, and it was quite the take-over. Dozens of other major cities took part in the fourth annual global event that celebrated and analyzed the role of social media’s impact on change. This year’s theme focused on Empowering Change through Collaboration. Over 60,000 attendees participated in 1,100 events, with millions more participating online.
I had the pleasure to take part in the last day of Social Media Week in Manhattan, and cannot wait for the next installation. The enthusiasm I felt as first time voter in 2008 emerged again as I sat in front of The Secretary of State’s Senior Advisor for Innovation, followed by Obama for America’s Digital Team. As I listened to the insights of Alec Ross of the Office of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, I was mesmerized by phrases like “increased connectedness” and “how to be a dictator handbook.” In regards to SOPA, Ross feels that as citizens become more connected, there is inevitable backlash from hierarchy. Ross was followed by a panel from President Obama’s digital campaign team – strategies and tools for 2012 and beyond was the topic of discussion. Social media in the 2012 election is incredibly different than what was used in 2008, and rightly so. The panel advised to speak in the language of the people that you’re speaking with, whether that be Twitter, Tumblr, or Google +. Obama’s team shared that social media is not just about media, or digital, in its essence social media is about community organizing. Maybe that’s why it proved so successful in 2008, and will carry the torch in 2012.
Another panel I attended that discussed leveraging online platforms to inspire social good. Bubbling with excitement about learning the secrets to bettering the world via my Macbook Pro, I was practically drooling as I listened to the stories of Sweetriot founder Sarah Endline, IndiGoGo co-founder and CEO Slava Rubin, and founder and CEO of Green Girl Energy Ingrid Vanderveldt. My eyes were like ping pong balls darting back and forth as each spoke about how they morphed an acorn of an idea into a brand that will change the world. Have you ever heard the term crowd funding? If not, Google it and thank me later. Slava Rubin took crowd funding to a new level when he co-founded a new way for ideas to be funded. Regardless of credit status or cause, IndiGoGo provides people with the tools needed to build their campaign and raise funds.
The role that social media has played in revolutions, campaigns, and awareness is immeasurable. Gone are the days where social media simply affects change, and now is the era when social media has specific purposes tied to specific results.
“It is not the strongest nor the most intelligent that survive, but those that are most adaptable to change,” said Alec Ross, Senior Advisor for Innovation for the Office of the Secretary of State.