A new global survey from Havas Worldwide has found that a plurality of respondents (35%) believe that the single greatest societal change agent is “people empowered by social media.”
Nearly three-fourths of those polled also said they believe the more powerful corporations become, the more obligated they are to behave ethically with a focus on the public interest.
Per the survey, 68% believe that businesses bear as much responsibility as governments for driving positive social change. In fact, close to two-thirds believe that in general, businesses are better run than governments. And even more -- 76% -- say they want corporations and governments to work together to effect positive change.
More than 60% said they would like their favorite brands or companies to play a bigger role in their local communities, while about as many said they expect corporations to play an increasingly vital role in addressing the world's major problems.
The findings come from the agency’s “Communities and Citizenship” study. The shop commissioned Market Probe International to poll more than 10,000 online respondents across 31 countries.
Stated Havas CEO David Jones: "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. Consumers are rewarding those businesses that take the lead and punishing those that don't."
The survey found that 88% of those polled use social media at least once a day, and 45% say it has made them more politically aware or active. For millennials, the number jumps to 54%, compared to 24% among older respondents (age 55-plus). Some 40% of the survey sample said they believe social media has made them more influential. Over 40% said they expect to use social media in the future to promote worthy causes.
"Six in 10 of our study respondents believe social media gives ordinary citizens an extraordinary ability to influence others and create change," stated Marianne Hurstel, Havas Worldwide's global chief strategy officer.
"This sentiment is especially prevalent in
emerging markets, where 68% agreed with this statement, compared with 49% of those in developed markets. In places where control has traditionally been in the hands of the few, social media may well
offer the single most important pathway to power."
The survey also found a lack of faith in politicians to do their jobs. Only 39% said they have even a moderate (or better) faith in their national government and just slightly higher faith in their local governments (42%).
The full study can found here.