TED Conversations

Bob Dohse


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How might we use social networks to facilitate a short-term boycott on a company or product that creates positive community pressures?

How can we better use our social networks to create positive changes in our communities?

Is there a way to use short-term boycotts to signal to a company or government entity that our community is not happy with them?

Long-term boycott have a severe impact on a corporation's finances or a government's ability to provide services, but short-term boycotts allow for messaging without disabling a company or a government.

Might a "40 Hour Fast" be the tool that gets management's attention without destroying the entire organization?



Closing Statement from Bob Dohse

We generated a few thoughts to ponder, but I think perhaps the power of socially-networked protests remains in the hands of the traditional "community activists".

I know of 2 recent socially-networked protests, but they choose to remain anonymous and I'll respect that choice.

One used the power of video, linked to a social network, to effect change is the corporate decisions of a national residential (apartment) management company.

The other used social networking to implement the short-term boycott of a product. Their boycott drove the product's user activity to a historically low level ... an activity level that would be financially unsustainable for the company over time. The long-term effect upon company policy is still undetermined, but the group's boycott generated a 50% increase in group membership and the members are very pleased with the initial results.

The conclusion to this dialog, I think, is that there is more to come in this area as socially-networked activism further develops.

Thank you to the participants of this TED Conversation.

Warm regards.

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    May 12 2013: Before it was social media - it was mass media. Spreading the word. As we globalize, the ability to spread the word has eased, the desire to reach out and touch someone has increased and both anonymous and signed declarations for and against ideas and entities has shifted.
    Angie's List is an example of how to boycott or endorse an entity without touching it.
    The combined efforts, can reach the heart and soul of companies who listen. Those who don't may crash and burn.
    The downside of group participation, as with Angies List, is you have no proof that what people are complaining about is true - or not. The consumer can use it to improve a company or just to eliminate the competition. The anonymity of social media has given us abilities that out distance responsibility.
    Veiled threats and the inability of being held responsible for slander I think often cause companies to not react to the use of these options.
    A good impact can be offset by lasting messages that were fixed but never erased.
    As people, we love to complain, but going back and saying great - they fixed it - that is much harder to remember.
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      May 12 2013: Kathleen ... you made a good comment on the idea of "proof".

      So, to improve the ability to communicate "truth", I suppose that a means of providing accredited data would consequently improve the ability to spread influence by increasing the credibility of the communicator of the "facts".

      Is that an accurate conclusion?

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