There were a series of events today that sparked an "a-ha" moment for me. I was presenting a half-day seminar on Social Media and got to the section on how Social Media came to fruition when I noticed one line in my slides that said: "Real Power."
I have had the pleasure of seeing Bill Clinton speak at many events over the past few years. I even had the pleasure of sharing the stage with him recently in Montreal, when we both spoke at a Power Within event. One of the main points he covers in his speech revolves around how never before have individuals had the ability to go about their day-to-day lives, but really affect change on their own through the power of the Internet.
He cites the SARS pandemic and how when the Canadian Government demanded answers from China, but got nowhere at the onset, the young people of China went online and into newsgroups, Blogs, etc... to talk about what was going on inside their country. They then, literally, hacked into the Chinese Government websites and forced the Government to come forward in a more transparent fashion. Real power.
Clinton also talks about his experience around the Tsunamis in Asia and how everyday people came forward with donations through the power of the Internet. The Web continually gives individuals newer and more powerful tools to do good things and affect change beyond on our immediate neighborhoods.
Everyday online, we're seeing this more pervasively. As the tools get easier to use and broadband penetration reaches critical mass, an individual's ability to affect change and have real power is one of the main driving forces behind Social Media, Web 2.0 and the democratization of information.
Marketers are starting to be comfortable with the reality that consumers have (and are wielding) real power. We're seeing more and more examples of this every day. From two guys in New Hampshire (EppyBird) who turned Mentos and Coke into a Bellagio-like experience to mash-ups and Consumer Generated Content that help marketers get their message out to more and more people.
If you happen to live in Minneapolis, I would highly recommend you attend The Power Within event next week featuring former President of the United States of America, William Jefferson Clinton. The event is taking place on June 18th, 2007 from 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm and will also feature co-author of Freakonomics, Stephen J. Dubner.
In the handful of times I have seen Bill Clinton speak, I have always been overwhelmed by his amazing ability to hold the crowd and his brilliant story-telling skills. My guess (and hope) is that he still uses the notion of "real power" as a central message in his speech, and how because of the Internet we're all able to engage, connect and affect change in our lives and for those around us.
If that's not the core reason we're in marketing, I don't know what is.
You can get full event information here: Bill Clinton - Power Within - Minneapolis.