As Barack Obama addressed the audience at a Town Hall event moderated by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg this week, the significance of social media in the contemporary world was partially revealed. Not only did it afford the US leader the chance to address both influential technological innovators and the sites typically young subscriber base, but it could also be seen as a corporeal example of how the government can use new media to engage and excite the voters of tomorrow and effect social change.
Mr Obama used his hour long address to full effect, highlight the significance of scientific education and immigration reform to the technological innovators present, while discussing the virtues of informing and empowering youthful citizens within the boundaries of a democracy. His use of Facebook as an example to support the freedoms now afforded to citizens was key, as this is vindication for the site and social media as a whole entity. Given the efforts of social media brands to evolve their services, this is a critical signpost in their signpost.
The Changing Face of Social Media
Mr Obama is known to be a great fan of American innovation, as he believes that this is the result of a freedom of thought that is synonymous with the US. Having cited Facebook in previous addresses, it is easy to see why he is so positive in his assessment of social media and their benefit to society. In 2010, Facebook became the most frequented online global resource, surpassing Google on the way to securing 500 millions users worldwide. This is a reflection of how it has evolved since its inception in 2004, and its progression from being a virtual social network to becoming a core part of business and marketing strategies.
It is this continued evolution that has allowed Facebook to grow as it has, while constantly changing and adding new services to meet the boom of social demand. In today’s society, not only does it form the basis of over 80 percent of all business and marketing activities, but it has also emerged as a great tool for the social entrepreneur in charitable ventures developed to create social change. Where Facebook and social media sites were once utilized to communicate within a small and select social circle that was individual to each user, it is now capable of connecting people and organizations on a far more global scale.
New Media and Effecting Social Change
This type of new media is characterized by being accessible at any time through a range of digital devices, which is why it is so suited to corporate interests. However, as social media sites like Facebook and Twitter begin to enter the realms of charity and politics, it is also being revealed as a potential enabler of people that can build communities and effect social change or improvement. With this in mind, there is no doubt that social media is set to play a significant role in allowing the US government to connect with engage the young adults of today, and create a new generation of voters who are both interested and knowledgeable about politics and prominent social issues.
There is constant concern that the current generation of adolescents and young adults are either too disengaged from politics to vote or simply ignorant to many of the issues that dictate the course of an election. This highlights a gaping chasm between those who run the country and those are empowered to vote them in, and this is a space that social media has the tools to bridge. Through its ability to attract younger individuals to a single forum and the allow an uncensored flow of two way interaction and communication, it is the perfect platform for young citizens to both be heard and develop opinion on the political issues of the day.
A Long Term Vision of Social Capital
For the current issues that blight the US to change, a long term vision of prosperity must be employed by the nations leaders. Social media can form an integral part of this vision and resolution, through encouraging interaction and the sharing of information between the influential leaders of the country and the next generation of voters. By opening up these avenues of communication, the government can empower individuals and help to create the problem solvers of tomorrow.
In Barck Obama’s most recent address, he touched on the importance of engaging and informing youngsters so that they may grow to play a part in the social and political reforms of the future. This is a positive statement of intent, and it is refreshing to see a government and its leader focusing on the benefits that social media can offer to society rather than considering its more negative connotations. It is this progressive approach that will not help America and its citizens to move forward, but also help to secure the long term prosperity of the country.