The Power of Social Media?

Have you ever really pondered the power of social media?  In a prior life (at MyST), I actually spent a great deal of time doing just that.  And recently, I saw another example, perhaps, of the power of social media in action.

A couple weeks ago, NBC News ran a story about a supreme court challenge to the words “under god” in the pledge of allegiance. The story included an online poll asking readers a single question:

Do you think the words “under God” should be removed from the Pledge of Allegiance?

At the time I first saw the story (which was about six hours after it was published), there had been about 35,000 responses, with the following results:

  • 14% in favor of removing the words,
  • 86% against.

Well, I was disappointed with those results.  (Yes, I’d like to see the pledge restored to it’s original wording, and our national motto restored to the original de facto motto, E pluribus unum.)  So, I turned to Twitter to try to influence the results.

I spent about 10 minutes tweeting to like minded, highly influential Twitter users, each with hundreds of thousands of followers. My tweets were simple, for example:

Then I forgot about the matter, until a couple of days later when I saw another reference to the story.  This time, when I visited the story, the survey results had shifted. Dramatically.

The Power of Social Media? -- Pledge of Allegiance Survey Results

The Power of Social Media? — Forty-eight hours into a mall, but focused, social media campaign, these survey results had dramatically shifted.

Now, I know, correlation does not imply causation.  Maybe 97% of NBC News readers really do want to remove “under god” from the pledge.  Maybe 86% of the first 35,000 respondents were, coincidentally, from the 3% of readers that don’t favor changing the wording. Maybe the power of social media had no influence at all.  But, maybe it did.

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