Saturday, 15 February 2014

The Power of Social Media

by Zoe Rundle

Over the years, we have seen the rise of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. They are powerful tools which can unite the public from all over the world and this has been demonstrated in a number of cases. Whether it be through gaining ‘likes’ on Facebook or getting noticed through ‘retweets’ on Twitter, it can help individuals get seen by celebrities or accomplish what they didn’t think they could, all through the internet.
Facebook has been used as a useful tool and an effective method of persuasion. There are several ‘1 million likes’ campaigns going around with several being successful. For example, when Bradford unexpectedly reached the League Cup final last year, David Bowers, an Australian man, put out an appeal to Facebook; the picture he posted (see left) showed him holding up a message with a plea for people to like his post in order for his wife to allow him to fly over and watch his beloved Bradford City at Wembley. The deal was if he could gain 1 million likes on his photo from users around the world, then Mrs Bowers would agree to him travelling 10,000 miles (16,090 km) from his home in Melbourne, Australia, to see the Bantams in the League Cup final. Mr Bowers, originally from West Yorkshire, spoke publicly and said how he was surprised at how successful his appeal had been with him gaining the desired 1 million likes in a matter of days. His wife stuck to her promise and he found himself sat among 90,000 others at Wembley in February last year. He was interviewed live on Sky Sports News on the big day (see photo to the right).

Facebook has also been the centre of other family campaigns such as a recent one titled ‘TwoGirlsAndAPuppy’ (see photo below).  A father-of-five set up a Facebook page for the kids for his challenge. "We're two sisters who want a puppy!" read the account’s ‘About’ section. The two girls are two-fifths of the children in an adorable and clever photo posted by the kids. It all resulted from an east coast American family who had a conversation about getting a family dog and in the end, the father challenged two daughters (out of 5 kids!), to get 1 million likes on Facebook in order to get a puppy. In 7 hours, they reached their goal and ended up adopting a dog from a local rescue centre.
Finally, just this week, an incredible gesture by Everton Football Club all started as a result of Twitter, the difference here being that there was no real intention of a campaign. After Malaysian fan Ric Wee flew over for the mid-week clash with Crystal Palace, he was left disappointed after the game was called off – even more so due to the fact that it would have been his first time at Goodison Park following a thirty year wait. Following the decision to postpone the game, Ric tweeted ‘Sadly Everton v Palace match called off due to bad weather. Dream to watch EFC play will continue to be on hold’. After numerous ‘retweets’ and fans tweeting Everton’s official page calling for Ric to be recognised, he was and the club took him into the stadium where he was able to meet all the players, who had arrived at the ground before the game was called off, as well as manager Roberto Martinez. With the help of Christine Prior, Everton’s Supporter Liaison Manager, Ric had a night to remember and the following day was treated to a tour by former Everton Player Darren Griffiths (see photo below).

Mr Wee later tweeted ‘Wish to thank Everton for the great hospitality. Really appreciate it. Also much obliged to the many Evertonians sending warm messages over.’ Following his behind-the-scenes tour the next day, he took to social media once again to say how it proves ‘that it’s the People's Club, taking extra effort to connect with fans. Salute the people running the club’. Ric has made almost every national newspaper, had a special feature on Sky Sports News and has been interviewed by a number of official Premier League sources. This is a great example of how powerful social media is and, due to just one tweet, Everton Football Club were able to ensure that lifelong fan Ric didn’t go home disappointed.
Therefore, it is clear that social media, including Facebook and Twitter, is having an increasingly vital role in society and can help dreams come true even if the initial intention to do so is not there in the first place.

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