Most of us use social networks nowadays, whether it’s the more prominent Facebook and Twitter platforms, or the image and video based channels. It has become a part of modern daily life, and many people have contrasting opinions about whether that’s a good or a bad thing.
Some people say that social networks are the opposite of social: teenagers nowadays home alone on their computers, chatting to their friends, rather than actually leaving the house to see anyone. However, some claim that social networks bring us all together: for example, we can talk to friends and relatives all over the world, at no cost, via social networks.
Although, what many don’t seem to realise is the capacity and potential of social networks. Mainly: the potential to reach and empower people as part of an online community. Social networks literally provide normal, everyday people with a platform to communicate and reach like-minded people. Places like Facebook have the potential to connect people, and allow them a safe place to discuss ideas and inspire a whole social community of people.
In short, social networks can bring about social change, and it’s been proven countless times.
One infamous example has to be after the 2011 London Riots. Of course, we are not referring to the stirring up of the riots, but to the social action that occurred following. 19-year-old Annie Lorraine of London borough Woolwich decided to create a Facebook group after the riots, as a clean up mission, simply called: ‘Community Riot Clean Up – Woolwich’. The group amassed a total of 900 members who all came together to help clean up the area after the colossal mess of the riots.
But of course, Annie’s wasn’t the only social network group of volunteers, and throughout London much of the riot clean up was solved by volunteers, brought together through social networks and online communities. The people who started these missions can all be called social entrepreneurs, for bringing people together and starting online communities to bring about change in their London communities.
That 2011 London clean up mission is just one example of social networks aiding social change, and there are now and have been many more since. One of the main ways that people ignite change through social networks is via Facebook, through starting a Facebook Group. For example, there are many examples of social entrepreneur empowerment groups, which are all free to join on Facebook. These communities help inspire other people to achieve the social change we all aim for.
However, it’s not just Facebook that’s capable of inciting change and online communities; Twitter is just as effective. Keep Britain Tidy is an avid member of Twitter, with approximately 14,000 followers (at the time of writing). They often Tweet images of volunteers helping keep Britain tidy, and cleaning up areas and beaches, for example. This helps invite others to join in the cause, and begin their own groups within their communities to help the areas that need the clean ups.
Social change is not just about the nationwide changes. Many Twitter users often use the platform for social change through utilising trending hashtag campaigns, in order to highlight issues and invite people to think about change. They often highlight issues to do with racism, sexism and homophobia, and more, in order to inspire others to start thinking differently.
Social change is all around us, and can be as simple as starting a Page or Group on Facebook, or inspiring a hashtag campaign on Twitter. If anything, social networks have changed the way we can impact on the world and our local communities around us. We can now gain responses far easier, as well as contacting people freely all over the world. This means we can get more conversations started about global social change, and draw and inspire people together and to join our mission.
Social networks have transformed the way we can achieve social change through online and local communities, and has therefore become essential in the mission for global social change. Consequently, they are certainly not to be overlooked by any budding social entrepreneur.