When you hear people talk about social media, you immediately think about how social media channels can be used to enhance your brand, or build and expand your personal network. Twitter will get your name exposed to a broader range of people. Facebook allows you to become a “fan” of your favorite brands, and rekindle past friendships with acquaintances from long ago. I could go on about platforms like Vimeo, YouTube, Flickr or Pinterest, but I’ll spare you. Raise your hand if you’re heard this infamous line: “…the power of social media.”

As a marketing professional, I struggle with that phrase. When I think of the term “power” I immediately flash to images such as monster trucks or Hulk Hogan. Strong. Powerful. Often intimidating. Until recently, I wouldn’t have referred to social media in that manner.

However …

Lately, social networks have taken on a more grass roots function, fueling the passion and inspiration that ignites and propels movements forward, such as what has transpired online with the Trayvon Martin case. To date, there has been serious backlash on Twitter and Facebook concerning this case on both sides of the issue. Is social media playing a key role in this case? Most definitely.  Participation in the “Prosecute the Killer of our Son, 17-year old Trayvon Martin” petition created on the website change.org, has already logged more than two million signatures. Petitions such as this, as well as the coordination of public rallies of support are easily conceived and executed through social channels. If you have the motivation and drive, chances are you will find a wealth of supporters willing to show support online.

This has me rethinking what “power” and “powerful” truly means. Bringing a collective voice to stand up for an issue is powerful. It accentuates genuine and passionate sentiment. It amplifies a message – whether it’s professional or personal, benefiting the promotion of a product or the support of a cause. If properly thought out and implemented, it can move mountains.

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