What Happened: On April 14, at least 275 and perhaps more than 300 teenage girls were kidnapped while at school by a terrorist organization called Boko Haram in Northern Nigeria. To this day, the Nigerian government seems uncertain as to the exact number missing, and little progress has been made in recovering them. But the event has not gone unnoticed by the global community, helped to a large extent by a Twitter campaign that organically exploded after a senior official from the African division of the World Bank demanded that the Islamic terrorists, “Bring back our girls!” In the days after Oby Ezekwesili made that comment, #BringBackOurGirls was pushed out by people around the world, including First Lady Michelle Obama, whose plea on behalf of the girls sent usage of the hashtag into the stratosphere. While the girls are still not back, rescue efforts and hostage negotiations have accelerated because of the millions of tweets.
What This Means for Brands: Once again, social media—in this case, Twitter—has been used as a powerful tool for elevating global awareness about important events taking place in even the most remote parts of the planet, making social the equivalent of a global town crier and synonymous with news and activism. This terrible event has highlighted the impact that social can have in rallying support for a cause and is reminiscent of Twitter’s use in mobilizing thousands during the Egyptian uprising that overthrew former president Mubarak. Clearly, the use of social by brands just scratches the surface of its true potential. Then again, most brands don’t have the likes of Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and Nobel peace prize nominee Malala tweeting on their behalf. It is a reminder as to how small the world has become and the potential for positive change because of it.
Contributing to TRENDING items are Amanda Ayotte, Ephraim Cohen, Lisa Helfer, Jeff Maldonado, Lauren Price and Abby Ray.