Exploiting social media to get companies, rather than government, is more likely to result in change for the good. A new study from Havas Worldwide finds that a lot of people feel "prosumers," consumer activists, can make a difference in that regard.
One uniform finding of the online survey by Market Probe International, tapping the opinions of 10,000 adults in 31 countries, is that they are satisfied with government -- regardless of the form it takes. Also, 88% of the global sample use social media at least once a day, and 45% say it has made them more politically aware/active.
Eighty-percent of prosumers, who exercise the power they have to move corporate policy by influencing consumers to buy or not by its brands, say social media has made them more politically active.
Also, 73% of respondents said they believe that the more powerful corporations become, the more obligated they are to behave ethically and with the public interest in mind. More than two-thirds (68%) say businesses bear as much responsibility as government for driving positive social change.
Further, 61% would like their favorite corporate and consumer brands to play a bigger role in their local communities. Six in 10 expect corporations to play an increasingly vital role in addressing the world’s major problems, because people feel they are better equipped to act than governments because they are better run. For example two-thirds of prosumers think it will be corporations, not government who will solve global warming.
"We’re entering the age of damage, where social media has empowered people to hold businesses accountable,” said David Jones, global CEO of Havas, in a statement. “As corporations have grown in size and power, people are expecting more from them. They want big business in general—and their brand partners in particular—to play a role in driving positive change and to work toward the greater good rather than acting solely on the basis of their own agendas." Social media, he adds, makes consumers able to reward businesses that do good and punish those that don’t.
In fact, around half the sample (48%) believe they have more influence on society as consumers than they do as voters.