The night of the presidential election and the announcement of Donald Trump’s victory, feeling upset at the results, Teresa Shook called for a march on Washington on Facebook. What began as a local call to action in Hawaii on a social media platform, became a national event overnight. Activists, led by a team of organizers, across the United States arranged marches to protest the results of the election and make their voices heard on social issues. The events gained attention from international news sources, the President, social influencers and celebrities, and roughly 4,157,894 protesters in the U.S., according to The Washington Post. January 21st, 2017 brought about one of the largest single-day demonstrations in the nation’s history.
This campaign truly draws attention to the power social media has in our society. Initially, the content from the organizers was minimal, but their approach appealed to emotions and encouraged people to participate with the creation of social media accounts, hashtags, and events.
As the hours passed, protesters created their own content in support of the Women’s March, posting photos and videos of signs, chants, and speeches. News sources had no choice but to pay attention.
Social media platforms could not escape the #WomensMarch. It is a very clear example of how influential an audience can be (and more generally speaking, consumers). According to Zoomph, 150.9K Millennials alone used the hashtag on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram during the 9 hours of the march. People are drawn to large scale movements such as this one, and the supporters’ ability to share experiences, photos, and activity all over the world is one of the most important reasons this march was as successful as it was.
In the weeks following the event, the organizers behind them continued to engage their audience, encouraging participation in 9 other “actions” as part of the overall “10 Actions in 100 Days” campaign. One of these actions included the International Women’s Day demonstration on March 8th, “A Day Without a Woman“. These activists continue to use social media to attract supporters for what they believe is right, holding its Women’s Convention the last weekend of October 2017.
In my own research of this event and its organizers, I believe the most important thing I have learned is to be resourceful. Regardless of the issue, the product, or the group, social media is an incredibly powerful tool, and although this isn’t always a good thing, we should look at the general benefits. It can rally the masses, it demands attention, it spreads a message in seconds, just as it did in this challenge to society. Organizations not taking full advantage of social media are doing themselves a disservice.