You may have heard about the ongoing Occupy Wall Street protest. I’ve been following the story and it made me wonder: Are we witnessing the next big movement of our time?” Now I’m not talking about a march-on-Washington, hold-hands-like-a-bunch-of-hippies-and-sing-kumbayah kind of social movement. I’m talking about the write-a-blog, post-a-video-and-change-the-world sort of social movement.

While the protestors are exclaiming a message of government corruption and excessive influence of big business and the wealthiest 1%, Wired.com saw an even bigger underlying movement worth talking about: social media tools are fueling the entire Occupy Wall Street movement. How incredible is that?! Hundreds of people have been camping and protesting outside of Wall Street for 32 consecutive days without a single agreed upon leader rallying the troops! Move over William Wallace, we don’t need you to lead the people against the tyranny of oppression; we have Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to lead the charge.

Armed with laptops, Wi-Fi hot spot devices, web cams and a whole lot of free time, these free spirits have brought together people from all over using nothing but their computers. With more than 70,000 followers, the Occupy Wall Street Twitter account is Tweeting on everything from rallying the people–Please show up at MIDNIGHT to be prepared for 6 a.m.”–to making sure people stay civil–Don’t do anything stupid like jump barricades. Two people were arrested”. The social medium has been their means of mass communication, with which these protestors have been able to create food stations, places to charge equipment, a medical tent to treat injuries from police, rally notices, a website for people across the world to donate to the cause–and the list goes on.

Social sites allow people to connect, share, coordinate, broadcast and so much more. They give users the ability to connect with not only the people involved, but with people all over the world. What we have is a full-blown social movement on our hands, and we’re just beginning to scratch the surface on how powerful these tools can be. Now I know you think sites like Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter are only good for posting videos with cute kittens, reading Kim Kardashian Tweets, and poking” your friends, but the reality is that this quickly adapting social movement is changing the way people do business. Sites that were once meant to purely connect people with their friends have now become a way for businesses to generate a good percentage of their revenue. Companies are quickly learning how to use these sites to push advertising, generate revenue and interact with their consumers in a personable way that was never possible before. Terms like SEO (search engine optimization), social marketing, PPC (paid search) and many others have sprouted up as companies begin to define and pioneer this social movement.

It makes you think: if a bunch of random people on Wall Street can create what is now a national event using social tools, imagine what a single-minded organization or company could do if they utilized all the power of social media. The learning curve has proven profitable for the companies on the cutting-edge, while the ones slow to embrace this new technology have quickly found themselves left behind. It won’t be long until generations of people don’t know how to connect without the use social networking sites–a generation where old people will say, I remember when I was your age, all we had was MySpace.”

This social movement is going to revolutionize the manner in which business is facilitated; the way companies do business and how people interact. From sharing pictures with your friends, to organizing a national movement against Wall Street, the social movement has begun. The only question is, are you ready to harness the power?

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