People power rules, thanks to social media: Havas study

  • When asked who is greatest agent of change, 58% of Malaysians cited ‘the people,’ only 19% said ‘govt/ politicians’
  • One factor that seems to have shifted the power is social media, which is motivating and empowering people

People power rules, thanks to social media: Havas studyA PARADIGM shift has happened in the position of power to effect change. At least, that is what Havas Worldwide’s study has projected.

According to the Communities and Citizenship study, political leaders are not holding the scepter anymore, or at least, to be fair, not holding it with a firm grip. The study found that the “people, empowered by social media,” is the “single greatest agent of change.”

The results revealed that consumer-citizens, businesses and governments are no longer mutually exclusive when it comes to solving pressing challenges. It has now become a collective effort.

The study showed that, in relation to who is the greatest agent of change, 35% of the respondents cited “the people” while 25% said “government/ politicians.”
However, the numbers took a dramatic turn in Malaysia and Singapore. In Malaysia, a whopping 58% cited “the people” while only 19% cited “government/ politicians.” “The people” were still dominant in Singapore (46%) but the spot was challenged by 33% who rated “government/ politicians.”

The one factor that seemed to have shifted the power is social media which is “motivating and empowering people to push for change.”

“This study shows the extent to which social media is changing not just how Singaporeans and Malaysians communicate but also how they attempt to shape their worlds and address issues of importance to them,” Naomi Troni, Havas Worldwide South-East Asia chief executive officer, said in a statement.

“Without question, this new medium is making Internet users in these markets more politically aware -- and also more cognizant of their power to effect change. It offers a pathway to influence that simply didn’t exist until now,” she added.

Furthermore, 76% of Malaysians and 74% of Singaporeans responded that big, powerful businesses have a higher duty and obligation towards ethics and public interest, while 72% Malaysians and 66% of Singaporeans would prefer their “favorite brands/ companies to play a bigger role in their local communities.”

“We are seeing a dramatic shift from a time when companies had just one obligation: To maximize profits for shareholders,” Troni said.

“People now expect big businesses to act as some sort of super-citizen, tackling critical issues. They want -- and increasingly expect – businesses to act according to the greater good rather than solely in their own financial interest.
“That puts unprecedented pressure on brands, but it also opens up new ways for them to engage with consumers while making a measurable difference in areas of critical importance to us all,” she added.
The results unveiled that the ballot box took lower precedence than mindful consumption – 47% of Malaysians and 52% of Singaporeans believe “they have more influence on society as consumers than they do as voters.”

“The people of Malaysia and Singapore are taking their responsibilities as consumer-citizens seriously. They want to minimize the negative impact of their consumption choices, and they are looking to their brand partners for help with this,” Troni said.
“Offering clear information about product provenance, manufacturing, and ingredients, as well as opportunities to contribute to positive change, are now essential brand behaviors,” she added.
To read the full report, click here.
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