Top trending terms on Twitter today all center on Iran and the Iranian Election. I was curious to know why so I did a little digging. It becomes clear that this was one of the only communication portals which have (yet) not been blocked access to by the government of Iran.
This has opened up a world of usage to the worldwide audience which shows that people in Iran are not happy with the current situation. It has also allowed the people in Iran to communicate with each other while their phones and text messages were blocked. Is this censorship or just stopping the fundamental right which people have to communicate with each other?
I remember from living in the Middle East myself for many years that the internet was such a powerful thing in the respect of finding current and up to date info on things which would be ignored or highly strategised by local and regional news where censorship was prevalent.
Social Media (even though in its very early days) gave to opportunity to communicate with people openly and without concern. In any case the point of me writing this is to highlight the great role that social media has in the communication of countries where censorship is rife such as the Middle East and China. With the recent news coming in about China blocking pretty much the entire internet leading up, and during, the anniversary of Tiananmen Demonstration of 1989 and now Iran blocking facebook it begs the question, ‘Are governments in controlling pro censorship countries scared of Social Media?’ I’d say to an extent that they are because this is something that they can’t control or censor; people can say anything that they want and communicate with large audiences without having to be ‘cloak and dagger’ with their communication.
Freedom of speech is what Social Media is all about. For marketers this attribute of Social media can also be a very scary prospect because control is something that Advertisers have had for such a long time where they make advertising which interrupts daily life and forces you to listen, see and understand the message or brand that they are trying to market. When this control is taken away you need to think of different ways to interact and become more of a personable brand that gives back to the customer, present anecdotes and offers to the people who want to listen to your message. A good quote to explain this would be the one I heard at SES conference in London last year, “If you talked to people the way that advertising talked to people, they’d punch you in the face!”
So thinking about how to market to people on Social Media in an appropriate way is the biggest issue facing marketers.
In conclusion, Social Media is powerful and should not be ignored. Governments worried about dissenting communication & free speech will always seek to stop the top communication methods. TV Censorship, blocking or stopping of phones, limiting internet access and controlling where and when people can meet and communicate with each other are all staples of repression but from the comfort of their own homes where they can get onto the computer and within seconds be connected to almost every person on the planet the power of Social Media cannot be underestimated. Whether it be for finding out news or information about something there is always always a multitude of unbiased & up to date news sources and communication outlets in the world of Social Media which the traditional mainstream media (TV, Radio and print) may not always offer.
Viva la revolution.
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