Between fears over Facebook’s data handling (who can forget the Cambridge Analytica scandal?) and viewing life through the perfectly filtered (and ludicrously unrealistic) lense of Instagram, it’s easy to see why people are tiring of social media. If it’s not breaching your privacy, it’s affecting your mental health – or that’s how the media portrays it, at least.
OK, I’ll admit social media can occasionally be depressingly bad. Too frequently it’s ugly – but it’s also really, really good, too. Done well, social media makes us feel, it makes us aware, makes us laugh, makes us take action, makes us wiser, makes us communicate, makes us connect. It’s actually pretty fab, if you think about it. Here’s nine of our favourite examples of social media at it’s best.
Cast your mind back. It’s 2017. Donald Trump became president. Manchester fell victim to a terror attack. Giraffes became an endangered species. But amongst all of the doom and gloom (and there was a LOT of it in 2017), because of social media, we Stopped Sucking.
#StopSucking was a social media challenge that asked individuals, organizations, and brands to pledge their commitment to #StopSucking on single-use plastic straws. It organically reached 304 MILLION people in it’s first six months, stopped 30 million straws entering the waste stream, saw Seattle become the first city to pass a permanent ban on plastic straw use and even drove Starbucks to ban single used plastic straws in the USA. Pretty good, huh?
Only mere weeks ago, British travel group Thomas Cook ceased trading after failing to secure the required rescue deal – awful news for employees and customers alike. But when all seemed lost – there social media stepped in again, providing a platform for kind, caring people and brands alike to offer up their generosity to those who needed it most. Brands offered job opportunities and regular people offered everything from free haircuts, free taxis and free dry cleaning for employees that had the inevitable task of interviews looming on the horizon.
Earlier this year, New York City subway system banned animals: “No person may bring any animal on or into any conveyance or facility unless enclosed in a container.” But the rules said nothing about the size of the animal – and just like that, #BagDogs was born.
Back in August 219, the Amazon Rainforest saw the worst fires in many years – burning at 84% the rate it did in 2016. This tragedy happened for weeks until it was picked up on social media, quickly becoming the second highest trending topic of the year to date. Whilst traditional media outlets turned a blind eye, the millennial audience on social media made some NOISE, quickly capturing the attention of the celebrities they followed, who in turn vocalised the issue calling for members of the G7 to #ActForTheAmazon.
Until October 2019, Coleen Rooney was most likely best known as Manchester United and England legend Wayne Rooney’s wife. Until, THAT moment. Coleen quite literally broke Twitter with the now infamous “It’s……….Rebekah Vardy” accusation, and the whole world became enthralled by the WAG drama. There were thousands of memes created, and the (quite potentially the best hashtag ever) #WagathaChristie was born, thus ensuring a stream of hilarious comic content went viral, showcasing British social media at its very best.
Age UK’s 2018 #WeAreHere campaign aimed to raise awareness of the sense of loneliness that many older people experience. They commissioned research which showed that more than 300,000 of those aged 65 and over had not even had a conversation with family or friends over the last month. The charity launched a heart wrenching video on social media to hammer home the point, appealing for donations to the charity’s support services.
Three words, one game changing hashtag: #ThisGirlCan. Started way back in 2015, this is one social media campaign that is standing the test of time, still inspiring women to get more active, without judgement and without fear. So far almost three million people have become more active – pretty impactful stuff.
The world famous Oscar selfie was the most retweeted Twitter post of all time – until recently. A Wendy’s superfan ignited social media delight when he tweeted the famous fast food brand and asked “how many retweets for free nuggets for a year?”. Wendy’s boldly challenged him to 18 million – and therein set off a wildfire of support for Carter, who racked up an impressive 3.4 million retweets. He may have just missed his 18 million mark, but Carter still got his nuggets IRL – and entertained millions in the process.
Charity WWF caused a social media storm with their Snapchat campaign #TheLastSelfie. It cleverly used Snapchat’s 10 second viewing functionality to mirror the lack of time that many endangered species have to survive. Followers of The World Wildlife Fund’s Snapchat account received pictures of an endangered animal overlaid with a caption such as “Don’t let this be my #LastSelfie”, with accompanying information that told the followers where they could go to help. As a result, there were posts by 40,000 Twitter users that were seen by 120 million users, and the WWF met its monthly donation target in just 3 days.