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An article in E-Business Blog provides an interesting, if rather academic primer on social media’s potential (and limitations) as a tool to bring about social change.
Key points:

– While individual opinions can be dismissed, argue enthusiasts, social media represents a more effective public sphere because it aggregates the voices of thousands and is able to respond to issues immediately (the ‘collective common sense’ also known as “the wisdom of crowds.) New forms of action are created that extend beyond the boundaries of cyberspace into the ‘real’ world.

Dell, Kryptonite Locks and several other companies have experienced the impact of thousands of voices responding to an issue with an impact that did indeed extend beyond cyberspace to impact on their profits.

– the critical camp asserts that social media takes the next step by altogether removing any trace of the individual’s identity in the name of a higher collective intelligence.

On the contrary, the value of social media is that previously unknown individuals can lead thousands, even millions, to action whether it’s making videos about Diet Coke and Mentos or taking political action. Someone unknown with something interesting to say, and the crucially important skills to promote him or herself, certainly can develop a following by using and participating in social media.