Huddled in some kind of grimy squat (because that’s where terrorists hang out right), a group of hooded figures are pouring over data, endless streams of data. There’s glee, back-slapping and high-fives. “Yes they’re doing it again, they’re dividing right before our eyes.”
There’s a hashtag and people are angry, scared and there’s hate. There are early signs of arguments breaking out across Twitter, Facebook and even the holy grail Instagram!
“Stick the kettle on, it’s time to deep-dive into the data and measure the sentiment” The murky figures gather back round with steaming cups of tea in cold hands. Four pairs of eyes scour the screens and start manually tagging every tweet, every single public Facebook post and comment, every news article and every Instagram post.
They’re looking for keywords that show the mood of the nation you see. With every mention of Manchester or #ManchesterAttack they want the words ‘hate’, ‘scared’, ‘threat’, ‘terror’. Any words that will cause a divide.
“Dudes, this is weird… I’m getting a lot of ‘loves’, what the fuck is going on?”
Another, hooded figure looks up from the stream of data and hesitantly says, “Me too, people are sharing stories of heroes and even worse some of them are Muslim heroes.”
“Snap! This data is full of love, strength and unity. How the hell are we going to explain this to the boss?”
The pairs of eyes sink as do their cold hearts. With Manchester they’ve failed.
Sure, the above scene is imaginary, but is it so far from the truth? Terrorists usually work as part of a bigger network. They often release video responses claiming responsibility for the attacks. In many cases this is an orchestrated campaign. So it’s probably not stretching reality to believe that they are intelligently analysing the social media data too.
I keep reading how helpless people feel and social media posts aren’t enough. Sure, we need more. We need the wars to stop, we need everyone in society to accept all humans for who they are, we need global tolerance and acceptance. But maybe we can believe social media is doing something.
With every communications campaign you set objectives. Yes you want people to talk about your event, product, brand and in social media you measure this using various tools. But volume of mentions means nothing if the keywords don’t tally with what you’re looking to achieve.
Your average brand wants to be associated with positive words. We even pick these words at strategy stage and they align with exactly what you’re trying to achieve. A new piece of tech for example, maybe we’d choose the words, ‘future’, ‘advanced’, ‘essential.’
In campaigns of terror they’ll want to evoke fear and anger, so they’ll pick their keywords accordingly. Even if they’re not analysing the data so methodically, they are watching social media, of course they are. No one targets a concert full of young girls and doesn’t watch the online aftermath. They certainly won’t want the outcome to be love.
But love is what they’re getting, because that’s how Manchester has responded. Every taxi driver that worked through the night, taking their fellow humans to safety. Every hotel owner and local that opened their doors to shelter those who needed a roof. The homeless guy who ran straight into danger and held the victims. Every police officer and NHS worker who showed bravery, compassion and probably haven’t slept for days now. Our heroes, every one of them!
Love is infectious and the nation has taken Manchester’s lead. More so than ever before the stories of the heroes are being shared. The gatherings showing unity and poetry readings and love! We are watching a huge change in social media sentiment as stories of compassion and kindness are being shared in the wake of a tragic event.
Yes the devastating facts are being reported and rightly so. Yes we have cried and will continue to do so for the victims, their families and for humanity. We will cry when the next incident happens too. But, if we can focus on the support, the kind souls, the humans who are helping. The real people who are deserving of our social media attention and not the misguided corrupt souls who’ve cause the tragedies, we are winning.
Even on twitter right now, the British public are sticking two fingers up to terror with the hashtag #BritishThreatLevels – take a look!
Social media is simply a reflection of reality. So the love being shared online has come from the real life stories. Flip this and make the heart-warming stories you share your reality too. Approach people with love and not fear, integrate those around you, especially those from different cultures, races and religions.
Division cannot save us, maybe love can. Go out there and wreck a social media campaign!