In former times, the big bosses had the power. The big advertising companies, maybe even celebrities. Or what about the politicians? Important people had to say important things. No doubts about that. When politicians said they have to invest in health care and education, then that’s what the people thought that had to be done. When a gorgeous man tells you to buy a typical kind of toothpaste, then that should be the one. When a fashion guru tells you it is the trend of the summer to highlight your hair, every women in town would have highlighted hair. But these things belong to the past. Thanks to the power of internet. And the power of the people online.
It is based on a theory called ‘agenda setting’, found by McCombs & Shaw. They state that the media decide what we, as the audience, think is important. However, Kim and Lee came with another version of this theory, which is exactly the opposite. It refers to social media (marketing) as their theory is stated as the following: an online message about a certain topic gets a high popularity so that the traditional media pick it up. This is so called ‘reversed agenda setting’.
An example of this is the Dutch singer Trijntje Oosterhuis. She promised on Facebook to donate one euro for each like she got, for the victims of the hurricane in the Philippines. When it went really fast and reached in no time a number of over 200,000 likes, she removed the message. A day later she explained that she didn’t expect such results and didn’t have the money to donate 200,000 euros but she promised to donate a fair amount. However, also the newspapers got to hear the ‘accident’ and a lot of people were disappointed in the singer.
What happened to this singer is a good example of the power of the internet. A scoop can spread in no time and reach thousands, millions of people within a second. How many times do you see pictures of kids with a picture ‘if I get 1,000,000 likes my mummy stops smoking’ or a picture of a sport team that get sponsored based on the amount of likes for the company. Then there are all the singers that got famous by uploading a video on Facebook or Youtube. Also in the Netherlands there was a real ‘Project X’ happening. A girl sent an invitation for her birthday but forgot to put in on a ‘private party’. Results: from all over the country people were going to her house, while the family of the girl had been evacuated by the police some hours before.
You see it can be innocent or, in worse conditions, it can escalate. But it will be clear that the world is turning. On the internet; the people decide.
Goodbye bankers, advertisers, politicians and celebrities. We have the power back.