By Enrique Dans, Professor at IE Business School, published on IE Focus
Social networks have the capacity to mobilize millions of people in defense of a cause, regardless of their location. The far-reaching impact of this is now starting to show.The expansion of social networks has had one extremely interesting effect: the proliferation of causes or claims capable of garnering the support of a large number of people, sometimes very quickly. When this occurs, the person promoting the cause in question cites the number of people involved as evidence of support, whereas sceptics and detractors try to downplay it by talking about of the scant value of support provided by merely using an index finger to click on a mouse.
Who should we believe? Can we consider this type of group as tangible evidence of support, the virtual equivalent of a street demonstration with banners and slogans, or does the practically zero effort required to support the cause mean it is worth very little? The social importance of this issue is growing as the number of social network users increases: Spain has the highest number of social networks users in the world (according to the latest figures, we are talking about around ten million active users on Facebook and around eight million on Tuenti). As a result, many are starting to see social networks as a kind of “trend laboratory” or a gauge for measuring the “social mood”, a kind of permanent, real-time survey on the widest possible variety of subjects.Details