Showing Some Love with Facebook and Twitter

This Valentine’s Day, we’re going to talk about…what else? Love. But not just any love–the very special kind of love that can only be properly conveyed through social media.

Social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter are often used to launch campaigns based on popularity, encouraging page visitors to tweet with a certain hashtag, “like” a page or post a status to show support and solidarity. The success of such campaign is used to measure the strength of demand for a certain agenda–much like door-to-door petitions of the past.

For example, now when there’s a crisis–such as the tragedies in Haiti or protests in Egypt–large numbers rally to either show the government or their peers that they support efforts to stand behind legislative or financial aid. By showing some love for their favorite causes, individuals become a part of a loud, collective voice that has more ability to affect those with money and power than any of the individuals could have shown by posting or tweeting on their own.

In 2008, Facebook users who were writers, editors, journalists and word enthusiasts joined forces to get the AP Style Guide, bible to grammarians, to modify its policy on using “website” as opposed to the outdated “Web site.” Over 700 of these AP-using professionals amassed to give their cause one focused, online backing. As of April 2010, it worked, affecting millions across the globe in the writing and publishing sphere.

Meanwhile, less serious campaigns are increasingly initiated, often involving celebrity. Comedian Chris Gethard asked fans of his live talk show to tweet to Sean “Diddy” Combs to get the famous rapper on his show. Thirteen months and countless #diddygethard posts later, Gethard’s abstract—but massively popular—pitch became a reality. Why did Diddy comply and show up on a small-scale late-night talk show in a basement-level NYC theater? To appease the fans, and thank them for their year of digital, vocal love.

Currently, a 20-something Bostonian gal who claims to be Conan O’Brien’s biggest fan is aiming to get at least 5,000 supporters on her Facebook page in an effort to snag a guest spot on his show. This number hasn’t been confirmed by O’Brien or TNT, but is her own personal aim–and she can only hope to get the network or the man himself to get on board and play into the love she and her 5,000 supporters are proving.

So should the masses have that much sway over major corporations, brands and celebrity entities? How much power should be granted to earnest, persistent individuals with time on their hands and access to social media accounts? Didn’t that honor used to only go to the obsessed and stalkers? Let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear what you think.

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