Introduction to Social Media

Social media applications are great for personal status updates and celebrity gossip, of course. They can also alert you to events, topics, and products that you might find interesting. What’s more, they are increasingly influential in world events.

Social Media and the Arab Spring

Arab Spring Photo />In late December 2010, citizens in the North African country of Tunisia gathered to protest the oppressive leadership, high unemployment rates, and political and social repression they had been enduring. The country’s news media, which were tightly controlled by President Ben Ali, dismissed the protesters, and the unrest failed to attract  the attention of the global mainstream media. The absence of media coverage presented the demonstrators with a serious problem: <span CLASS=How do we mobilize support within our country and raise awareness for our cause outside the nation? They turned to social media, and the results were groundbreaking.

Demonstrators used Facebook to schedule protests, Twitter to coordinate protests and share real-time updates, and YouTube and TwitPic to visually broadcast their cause to the world. Support for the movement spread like wildfire through social-media communities. Similar protests began popping up in other countries throughout North Africa and the Middle East. The revolutions became known as the Arab Spring. To date, oppressive government regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya have been replaced with democratic leadership.


Evolution of Social Media

The story above exemplifies the evolution of social media from a new way to connect with friends into a vehicle for social change, business marketing, brand development, and much more. As social media continue to evolve, new ways to connect with and make an imprint on the world will emerge.

Your Turn What does this story reveal about social media? What lessons can you take from this story for your own social-media use?