Monday, December 13, 2010

Demo 2010 and the power of Social Media

As a fresh post-graduate from University into the big wide world, with several friends still in academia, I've been watching the tuition fee debate with more then a passing interest. Whilst the student protests in London may have been a huge part of raising awareness of the debate, a protest of 20,000 people isn't a simple case of asking your mates to put together some witty placards and gather up in central London.

Looking behind the scenes of these student protests highlights how much of a big player Social Media can be in raising awareness. The BBC recently wrote up an article on 'How Social Media changed protest', demonstrating how Social Media has changed the nature of modern protest.

I made an attempt at reading the #demo2010 tag on twitter, the prefered hashtag for protest updates. I'm not kidding when I say it was impossible. I have no idea of any official statistics (yet), but I can tell you it updated faster then I could hope to keep up with it.

If you were keeping up with the news, you might have heard of the UCL Occupation, as you might be able to guess from their name, they were students occupying the Unversity College of London in protest of the raise in tuition fees. They did do a fantastic job of raising awareness and even lending a helping hand with the protest groups, all through the power of networking.

What was the key to their success?

The BBC article mentioned above, called the UCL Occupation "a different kind of radicalism, armed with a laptop", as they were able to get their voice out there through as many means as possible. Not just an active Blog and Twitter account, but a Flickr stream, Google Calender detailing all their meetings and debates and a whole ream of videos to do with all aspects of the debate - constantly being uploaded to their Youtube account, and then plugged in their blog where relevant.

What started as a Blog and Twitter account attracted the attention of the media, with a live stream to news channels as well as local radio interviews, giving further publicity.

During the last day of protesting, @UCLoccupied turned their twitter-networking into protest-coordinating. Using Google maps and information from tweets by protesters across London, they were able to construct a near enough real-time updating map of London, detailing Police blocks, road closures and even cases of public disorder and trouble spots.

You can't help but admire how one small group of individuals armed with laptops, wifi and internet know how manged to contribute so much.

I'm not saying you should be trying to rally 10,000 students to your cause with the power of a hashtag, but this whole scenario does help highlight how powerful a tool Social Media can be.

I am pleased to say that the Flashlight Team here at Rocktime have bags of experience in rallying up the troops and conducting Social Media in a safe and social manner.
If you would like to talk to them some more more about social media management please don't hesitate to give them a call.

Author: Alice Cheetham


Rocktime Digital Agency said...

Well written!
Good observation from a youth perspective

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