The Power Behind One Image

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We often hear about photos and videos that go viral. Most times, they involve cats. Whilst many find these entertaining, they rarely have a lasting effect on us. Yes, they are shared and commented on- usually for their comic or surprising effect, but that is as far as it goes. We don’t give them any more attention beyond those few seconds.

But once in a while, a post comes along that inspires a community into action. Not just sharing and commenting, but action that counts: action that, in the end, highlights the power of being part of a social and digital community.

There is a photoblog on Facebook called Humans of New York. The following photo was posted a few weeks ago

Photo posted on HONY's Facebook Page

Photo posted on HONY’s Facebook Page

It started a chain effect that includes world press running the story across their platforms; millions of likes, comments & shares; a fundraiser with a target of $100,000 raising $1.42m; and a photo of a child from a poor Brooklyn neighbourhood sitting at the desk in the Oval Office, with President Obama by his side- all within the space of 2 weeks.

The power of one image engages the world enough to draw the attention and time of President Obama, at  a busy time in world politics.

The power of one image engages the world enough to draw the attention of President Obama, at a busy time in world politics.

 

There was no ‘viral strategy’ involved in getting this message out there. That is all the more reason for its success. It had the magical element of authenticity. In an age where we are fully surrounded by marketing messages, we learn to dismiss messages and content in nano-seconds. It is a coping mechanism we have developed with our evolving use of fast paced social media.

What is the take-away message here? If you speak to your community about what you feel matters the most- as a brand, a business, a person- then your community will respond. We live in an age of mass images, videos and text; its nice to remember there are real people with real stories.

I’m sharing this story because I love the effect that one image can have on so many millions of people around the world. Not to mention the speed with which it all happened. This is the potential of social media at its best!

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