On a day commemorating the life and work of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, it seems opportune to not only consider Dr. King’s legacy but to observe the methods by which the conversation of social justice has evolved and migrated into the digital space.
While traditional media played an important and critical role in Dr. King’s campaign for civil rights, his message was still largely spread by means of speaking engagements, scholarly articles, and the occasional press interview. And yet many of these same conversations, started 50 years ago, have evolved and translated into the world of social media.
Digital conversation has radicalized the way marketers think about engaging audiences, and, at the same level, the way politicians, activists, community organizers, and thought leaders approach the dissemination of their message and the methods by which they aspire to effect change.
Isn’t it easy to imagine Dr. King campaigning for civil rights utilizing a trending hashtag or a YouTube channel with millions of followers? How would these kinds of digital tools have helped further, or perhaps even, deter Dr. King’s message?
Today, social justice leaders are taking full advantage of the digital space in hopes of connecting and building audiences. Social causes that may draw from a vast and disparate support base now have the opportunity to connect through social channels; such as the often cited use of social media in the Arab Spring. More recently, this list of the Top 4 Nonprofit Social Media Campaigns of 2013 demonstrates how social channels have truly radicalized and brought to light issues of global importance. Certainly, there are many others to come.
Within our own communities we also have the opportunity to effect real, salient change. The kind of change that Dr. King spoke of as a kind of “great opportunity [that] stands before you and calls upon you to stand up for some great principle.” These principles need not be of worldly influence, though. They can be your child’s community theatre project or the local shelter’s annual drive. We should realize the opportunity that social media provides for us as being more responsible, engaged citizens of 2014. Yes, there does seem to be a hashtag or Facebook group page for every “do-good” cause, but the reality, and also the dream, is that we use digital means to build towards a future of open dialogue and limitless solutions.
And so, on this Martin Luther King Day, we encourage you to ask yourself: “How can #social empower me to bring about change?”
For more on how we try to help at Kinetic Social, visit http://www.kineticsocial.com/kinetic_cares.php or check out our article on #GivingTuesday.