In the online Video titled How to Make a Splash in Social Media, Founder Alexis Ohanian teaches the web using public a bit about user control of the web via social media. In this historical and honest point of view, Ohanian tells us that in modern social media the groundswell belongs to the user not originator of the web content, and that’s ok. He knows this via his background and showcases a case study to prove his point.

Mr. Ohanian started a web news interface called, which allowed users to vote news stories up or down in popularity. This was user control content rather then author or owner controlled content. He gave us the key points via his Reddit site as the interface and the groundswell of user control via the topics posted.

His view of social media is that the user control of the web isn’t about the things authors want, it’s about seeing new things via the web – the application is just the interface to new learning. Hence his site,, allowed the user to produce new content for other to learn and know using his interface as a vehicle. He did not need to be the admin of the information posted, merely the facilitator to others to produce as well as learn.

Case Study –Green Peace Whale Humanity Campaign

To illustrate his point about user control of social media, and how it does not erode the vitality of web effectiveness and information, Mr. Ohanian showcased an online Whale Humanity Campaign initiated by Greenpeace. Green Peace wanted to raise awareness to Japanese Whales Being Over killed by allowing users to name the Tracking Campaign to save them. They had many cultures intrinsic names and a silly one called Mr. Splashy Pants Mr. Splashy Pants was named a web favorite despite Green Peace putting out a full list of more cultural and pertinent sounding titles to vote on. Social Media site like Reddit, Fark, Boing Boing and others got Mr. Splashy Pants form a 5% underdog vote to the favorite at 70% by promoting its user voting.

Greenpeace slipped back into the old model of top down control and tried to extend the voting another two weeks to get others to vote for a more cultured name, but then Facebook got involved with others. This approached backfired in a user controlled web society. The vote for Mr. Splashy Pants ended up at %78 with just under 120,000 votes and won the name of the whale campaign.

What became clear form this case study? It became evident that the web users in social media setting controlled the vote for Mr. Splashy Pants and Green Peace could not stop the process. The irony, however, was that awareness was raised to the total of 120,000 voters and many more who read the story. The web buzz was a success. Green Peace was also able to profit from the user control buzz of this campaign and make popular clothes for sale from this for web users. The money could be used on future humanity campaigns.

In the end, though it was not what Green Peace has intended starting this online vote the Mr. Splashy Pants Whale Campaign was a success. Money and awareness was raised and the whaling was stopped in Japan. What can this teach us about control and social media? Mr. Ohanian summarized in five key points what this case study proves about social media in general. He says:

1. The web is a level playing field – Each person has equal link to the web
2. The buzz created in many social media campaigns is zero, just a free web account
3. Being upfront and honest in your web media is vital. People will know.
4. Most important, it is fine to lose control. As in the Green Peace example, they did not have full control of the Whale Campaign name, but the goal was awareness and they reached the goal with a silly name to a serious campaign.

Even if the interface does not have control, that’s ok. With equal posting ability, free online publishing tools, and honest and important ideas to share, users form all over the world can learn and teach one another via the World Wide Web. Social Media is the interface, but the brain of the user is the teacher. Ty Ray

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