Social media has the power to produce thousands of images, thoughts and ideas. And through the democracy of a large forum with millions of users, the group collectively decides what images to hold up as worthy (shareable, tweetable, likable, etc). This is something we did not have before social media. The important images were created by large advertisers, cable news and all other mainstream media. These are not collective bodies. These are corporate interests with ulterior motives and a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders, not the community.
This week, the saga with the NFL and it’s depressing response to domestic violence has taken another turn. When TMZ published the second video of Ray Rice and his then fiance in an Atlantic City casino elevator, the Twitter community responded with two hashtags: #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft. Here, survivors of domestic violence and assault claimed a platform to share their stories and shame the NFL for not taking greater action.
But this week, I was more interested in the multiplication of one image. In protest of the NFL, activists called for the firing of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell with a boycott of…beauty products?
Yes, indeed. Apparently, CoverGirl is the “Official Beauty Sponsor of the NFL,” whatever that means, making them the perfect target for female fans feeling outraged by the NFL’s disregard of the seriousness of domestic violence. This image has been shared over 37.0k on Mashable alone. The image has been retweeted thousands of times on Twitter and has supported the growing hashtag #GoodellMustGo. That is a lot of noise from one photoshopped ad.
Now, using that same logic with other campaigns, activist or advertising, how much more impactful is your work if it resonates with an audience on social media? The power structure has changed. It is the masses who decide what images to hold up, what is important. Quite exciting yet still slightly terrifying for any company on the wrong side of the Internet.