Social Media's Bloodless Revolution

Minuteman_4767_7On April 19, 1775, a ragtag group of neighbors in a rural village decided to upset the apple cart.  They were peeved about the way they were being treated by the world’s most successful, organized, wealthy superpower.

So this teensy-tiny army of Davids took up arms against the faceless, monolithic organization that had ruled their lives since they were born.

And they won.

No, this is not going to be a post about the ridiculous “tea parties” that Dick Armey’s astroturf organization has used to attract the nation’s disaffected naifs.  That effort is too cynical and dark to merit a comparison to the heroic events celebrated by Patriots’ Day.

I’d rather draw a comparison to the uprising represented by Social Media.

For our entire lives, we’ve been in thrall to Corporate America.  Battered by commercial messages.  Ignored or patronized when we had a complaint.

There was a time, not long ago at all, when the last, best recourse for justice was a Letter to the Editor and a complaint filed with the Better Business Bureau.  The former was discarded or ignored; the latter led to a closed-door adjutication process.  Sometimes.

This was the state of consumerism for the past 75+ years.  We were, all of us, bred to it; accustomed; resigned.

Now, a savvy person knows that they can tweet about their Goliath-like cable company and the giant will meekly seek them out.  Now, you can blog about your challenges with a huge car company and they will respond in your forum.  Now, an all-seeing oracle will find and catalog these online transactions for all to see — affecting the reputation management strategies of these mongo corporations, forever.

The revolutionary zeal of the Minutemen at Lexington & Concord required far more bravery.  But the bloodless revolution of Social Media will have impacts just as profound and long-lasting.

And that’s why I’m takin’ the day off.  Viva la revolution!

Posted on: April 20, 2009 at 6:58 am By Todd Defren
10 Responses to “Social Media's Bloodless Revolution”


  • Erin says:

    I think that social media may and will bring consequences that we did not foresee. It has turned the tables and instead of consumers being afraid of big business, big business is afraid of its consumers. However, that fear does not necessarily mean they respect consumers.

  • Loren says:

    As far as complaints goes, I think social media is a great way to get them across. When people had to write letters to complain about something a brand or company has done, no one else ever saw those complaints. This means that no one other than the person complaining knew that they brand had its downfalls. This can work the other way too, for compliments. If a company does something good or bad, now a customer can talk about it through social media rather than never letting anybody else know (in mass) what their opinion of a brand is. For example, almost anybody can post reviews online about almost anything. Whether good or bad, these reviews can help others to get a better understanding of the brand or company.

  • Neal Jansons says:

    Some nice thoughts and sentiments. I agree that social media has some deep implications for the future of power relations, but I foresee a bloodless coup…those that would have a stake in interfering generally don’t understand the technology.

  • Love the equalizing nature of SM. I do think that it does have some drawbacks though. Especially when it comes to brand terrorism (think Domino’s). Empowered, wired individuals can be of great benefit or great detriment to society. It’s how they wield that power that will determine how long sm will have captured the mainstream’s spotlight.

  • Seb Haigh says:

    Great article.
    And furthermore, I think we’re only just dipping a revolutionary toe in the water.
    There is so much more to come.
    Love the analogies.

  • Jon Clements says:

    I’m with you on this, and not just as an evangelist for the cause in the PR community, but as a consumer.

    After having protracted disputes with the UK-based telecomms firm, Carphone Warehouse – spending many hours dealing with call centre incompetence – this guy shows up on Twitter – – and helps to resolve my issue in a tenth of the time it’d taken for me to get to the point of desperation.

    Now, despite being a customer no longer, I will sing the praises of CPW for having the nous to recognise the value of social media interaction to manage customer dissatisfaction. A revolution indeed.

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