If you’re still in doubt about the power of social media as an advocacy tool and a force for change in our society (both good and bad), recent events in the last few days should help to remove any remaining doubts.
Just yesterday, Rush Limbaugh, arguably one of the most popular conservative talk-radio hosts on the American’s airwaves, well known for uttering hyperbolic tirades on his nationally syndicated radio show, issued a rare and uncharacteristic public apology to a Georgetown law student, Sandra Fluke, for calling her a “slut” and a “prostitute”. Ms. Fluke became the unwitting target of Limbaugh highly personal on-air attacks after she appeared before Congress in support of legislation requiring health insurance companies to include contraception without a co-pay in the United States.
Limbaugh was forced to retract his comments and deliver an apology in large part due to a grassroot campaign on social media – mainly Twitter- that began just days ago on Wednesday, February, 29, 2012. At first, Mr. Limbaugh – a man known for attracting controversy – brushed off efforts to chastise him for his latest incendiary comments. However by Saturday, March 03, 2012, after more than half a dozen of his advertisers pulled their commercial from his radio show, he took notice and issued an apology.
Thus far, here is a list of companies that have either suspended or dropped their advertisements from Rush Limbaugh’s show after being bombarded on Twitter and Facebook:
[important] Update: Here is a link to an updated list of all of the companies that had pulled their ads from Rush Limbaugh’s radio show as compiled by the Atlantic magazine[/important]
— Lizz Winstead (@lizzwinstead) March 4, 2012
Due to continued inflammatory comments– along w/valuable feedback from clients & team members– QL has suspended ads on Rush Limbaugh program
We have listened to our customers & have decided to cease our advertising on The Rush Limbaugh Show immediately. facebook.com/Citrix
— Citrix Systems (@citrix) March 3, 2012
@alm3 As of today, LegalZoom has suspended all advertising on the Rush Limbaugh show.
— LegalZoom (@LegalZoom) March 3, 2012
Recent comments by Rush Limbaugh do not align w/our values, so we made decision to immediately suspend all advertising on that program.
— Sleep Number Sara (@SleepNumberSara) March 2, 2012
Thanks to all of you for your concern and input. We are currently pulling all ads with Rush Limbaugh
— Sleep Train Mattress (@theSleepTrain) March 2, 2012
But what is currently happening to the Rush Limbaugh’s show and its former advertisers is not unique. In the last six months alone, there have been numerous examples of consumers taking to social media to express their opinions and demand changes. (See infographic below for examples of other recent spectacular consumer victories over large seemingly immovable companies.) Like other ICTs that have preceded them, Twitter, Facebook and other social networking services are changing how we communicate and interact with each other, and in the process they are also beginning to rewrite the social contract that has long governed the relationship between consumers and companies. And from all indications, this trend in social consumer activism is now officially on its way to becoming the new normal.
Small and large companies alike need to start paying attention, join the conversation online and take heeds of what their supporters and detractors are saying about them and to them on social media.
* This infographic is made available courtesy of Frugal Dad; they are wholly responsible for its content. It is posted here by the SocialMediaLab.ca for informational purposes only and the inclusion of this link should not be construed as an endorsement of that website or the site’s owners (or their products/services).