Recently Facebook has taken considerable criticism (including from me) for being a conduit for fake news during the past election cycle. The quasi-utopian fantasy that Facebook was making the world “more open and connected” was shattered by the political echo-chamber effect, pizzagate and a few horrific live-streaming incidents.
Yet the Women’s March in Washington DC and its many “sister marches” around the US and globally wouldn’t have happened without it. It’s very possible the Women’s March was the largest protest in US history — an estimated 3.7 million across the US participated.
The official Women’s March Facebook Page shows 234,000 attended. However, various counts reported that more than half-million people marched in Washington DC on Saturday. And third party estimates put the DC protest at 3X the size of the crowd attending the inauguration.
A Hawaiian grandmother, Teresa Shook, disappointed by the results of the November election, suggested to one of her Facebook groups that there should be a march. Within 24 hours thousands of people had expressed interest. It was spread and amplified from there and ultimately became the massive demonstrations that took place on Saturday.
We now take it for granted that this sort of thing can happen in the era of social media. But if you step back and reflect it’s amazing that a single person in Hawaii was able to make a suggestion on Facebook, which resulted in this global event — and potentially a new political movement.
This is not something that a brand marketer or other commercial entity could replicate in a calculated way. But it nonetheless reaffirms that Facebook and social media broadly are incredibly powerful marketing tools unlike almost anything else we’ve ever seen.