OK Computer: How the power of social media can make a change

With the sudden uptake of social media over the last couple of years, the power of this medium is being recognised as one of the most powerful platforms to get a message, campaign or event across.

British rockers Radiohead will hopefully tour South Africa (image: Radiohead)

Facebook recently updated their user statistics, and the company is bordering on 1-billion worldwide users. Microblogging site Twitter also has over 140-million active users, which creates a platform to quickly mobilise and execute plans, get messages across and stay in contact with friends.

Twitter and Facebook have previously been used to start successful campaigns, and a number of individuals and companies have already realised the powerful source it can be. A number of South Africans have now taken to starting a Twitter and Facebook campaign to bring British rock band Radiohead to South Africa – and hopes to have 40 000 “Likes” on Facebook in order to do so.

The Radiohead SA TOUR campaign was started by co-ordinator Tyrone Rubin, and said that Radiohead’s management will consider putting the band on a South African tour if the campaign reaches 40 000 “Likes” on Facebook.

Rubin quickly initiated a Facebook page and a Twitter account, and hopes that the power of social media will drive the project forward. “Twitter has been great. For a couple days we were the most trending story, with the tag of #radioheadsatour. Twitter is word of mouth on steroids and allows people to constantly keep the conversation alive,” he said in an interview with IT News Africa.

On why they decided to make use of social media, Rubin said that today is a very connected society and most people have access to the internet. “Most people are online in one way or another, or have access to the web. People have access to Facebook on their mobile phones or computers and at this moment in time it felt like the quickest way to create a community to support this.”

But this isn’t the first time that a social media campaign has been started to bring an international artist to South Africa. Rubin’s artist-friend Shaun Duvet started a similar Facebook campaign to bring DJ Deadmau5 to South Africa, and after 19 000 “Likes” the concert has held with great success.

“He was the first person I called after I got in touch with one of Radiohead’s concert managers. He advised us to get the ball rolling on Facebook as Radiohead Concert Management needs to see if there is a big enough fan base to justify adding South Africa on their current World Tour.”

Rubin hopes to have his goal accomplished as soon as possible, as the group will be playing in New Zealand and Australia in November of this year, before heading back to the UK for Christmas.

Do the organisers believe that they can reach their goal? Through the power of social media they are confident that their campaign will be successful. “We all believe this can be done and will continue trying until it happens. The numbers are growing and we are even building a strong team of people to start spreading the word.

“The wonderful thing about Social Media is that 1 000 people can each tell 10 people and that’s 10 000 people and so on. It’s the Viral Loop effect. And we are also focused on the ‘one to many’ effect, as in one Twitter follower tells his 10 000 followers,” Rubin confirmed.

And so far their campaign has been gaining traction. “We have been growing at a rate of about 1 000 a day. We hope to maintain that. We also hope to reach influencers and the media to keep this rate alive.”

“We believe this is just the beginning of using the mass connectedness of the world through Social Media. With everyone connected to each other we can really achieve great and wonderful things in real-time,” he added.

But Rubin also urges Twitter and Facebook users to start similar campaigns for whatever cause they feel passionate about. “If someone is passionate about something i.e. Poverty, Crime, Music, Arts or anything, all they need to do is rally enough like-minded people together, create a strong community, let that community have a voice and a goal, and with making enough good decisions a huge change can be made.”

Although Rubin’s campaign focuses on the British rockers, he wants Twitter and Facebook users to realize that with everyone connected to each other online, they can use their inter-connectedness to achieve anything.

“We were two Radiohead fans wanting to see Radiohead and in a couple of days we have attracted 5 000 people, the media and every single concert promoter in the country. We dream of using Social Media to rally people together for other causes that can create positive change in South Africa, Africa and the world.”

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Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor