As President Donald Trump continues to eschew traditional press meetings for more incendiary tweets, we at Hook Research spoke to Sam Mesquita – social director at a London marketing agency – about the way social media now challenges power structures, the ability of hashtags to unite disparate, like-minded individuals, and the creation of a new kind of digital democracy…. check out our new Talking Video human to find out more:
Hashtags: Reading Between the Lines
“A hashtag fits between search, which is slow, and social, which is instant and curated by your friends. It is the way that new information on the internet can be found, and that’s one of the few ways you reach beyond your immediate circle online.
It’s available to large players and small players together – it’s very democratic. It enables these networks to spontaneously form. The internet has always been important that way: Arab Spring was interesting because it was entirely run on mobile phones. It was incredibly hard to shut down. You couldn’t stop people from tweeting and they could do it from out in the streets.
Little local movements suddenly becoming a national movement. It’s very easy for a community of people to spread a set of ideas and communicate with each other, for their leaders to reach all of them. And that’s significantly a function of Twitter.
Twitter and Digital Democracy
Twitter’s brilliant at capturing attention around breaking news – it’s a very powerful news discovery platform. Breaking news doesn’t have to mean current affairs. Breaking news can be Great British Bake Off.
Twitter represents one to many communication of the most important things that are happening right now. It’s a brilliant way to break down traditional power structures. It remains the place where people who people don’t want to speak out, people whose voices power doesn’t want to hear, can organise.
It’s a double edged sword that, as you can see with the Alt Right in America. People who wouldn’t be given the time of day by mainstream media can form a community, form a culture, and then get re-tweeted by Donald Trump. Suddenly their voices are everywhere and immediate, having a genuine and terrifying impact on politics…”
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