The Women’s March on Washington and the Power of Social
The idea behind the ‘Women’s March’ is one of those legendary tales ending with ‘and the rest is history’. On November 8th 2016, the night of the US Presidential election, a Hawaiian grandmother called Teresa Shook took to Facebook to express concern over the threats against women’s rights under a Trump administration.
After the election results rolled in, Teresa created a Facebook event promoting the idea of a march for women’s rights. That night, she invited 40 of her friends to the group. By the next morning, 10,000 strangers had signed up.
Thanks to the viral nature of Facebook, Shook’s story soon caught the attention of the media, celebrities, political activists and women’s advocacy groups, who put their weight behind what became known as the ‘Women’s March on Washington’. What had started as a grass roots effort took on a life of its own and on the day of the inauguration in January, 500,000 women took to the streets of Washington to protest, with hundreds of thousands more attending one of the 673 ‘sister marches’ that occurred in cities around the world.
The popularity of the ‘Women’s March’ surprised everyone, and it may go down in history as the largest demonstration ever in the US.
Facebook: the perfect online PR tool
Was this movement sparked by dissatisfaction with the current state of the US government? Sure. Did the historic turnout have a great deal to do with the march taking place the day after the inauguration? Almost certainly. But something we can all agree on, is that the ‘Women’s March on Washington’ is a testament to the power of social media and PR. It’s pretty impressive that a single person in Hawaii was able to make a suggestion on Facebook, which resulted in this global event, and potentially a powerful political movement. Let’s have a look at why it went viral:
There was a purpose to it
If you’ve been on social media at any point during the past year, you’ll know politics is a hot topic. Articles presenting alternative facts and cold-hard truths about women’s rights issues are commonplace on any social media platform. However, what set Shook’s Facebook event apart is it had a genuine purpose. She wasn’t just airing her grievances or partaking in an ‘I’m right/you’re wrong’ social media war for the sake of it. She was planting the seeds for real societal change, that millions felt inspired to get behind.
Striking while the iron’s hot
Timing is everything and Shook’s timing couldn’t have been better. With that one Facebook post, she voiced the opinion of many in the nation. And while women’s rights is a cause that’s supported year-round, getting the ball rolling while many Americans felt their rights were most at risk helped to turn that disheartenment into empowerment and a desire to see change.
Finding a like-minded audience
The beauty of social media is that it provides the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals anywhere, in real time. Despite starting in Hawaii, Shook’s vision of a women’s march spread like wildfire after it was shared by women’s empowerment groups on Facebook.
Once it became an organised effort, event co-ordinators were able to share news and updates quickly and efficiently, racking up millions of social media mentions around the world.
It was driven by the power of PR
There’s no doubt that the outcome of this campaign has been extraordinary. Driven by the power of sincerity, human empathy and social interaction, Shook connected with millions of people in a meaningful way.
Influential female celebrities such as Beyonce rallied support for the march on social media, and media outlets across the globe featured her story.
It remains to be seen what will happen during Trump’s presidency, particularly with regards to women’s rights. However, the strong show of solidarity through the marches across the globe suggest the world will be closely watching over the next four years.