This may sound obvious to my readers, but to me it wasn't an "obvious" realization at the time: social media is extraordinarily powerful.
As you can see above, my personal YouTube channel (which has been mostly dedicated to raising awareness of NDAA and dangerous "cybersecurity" bills like CISPA), has attracted more than 415,000 video views - as much as, if not more than, some of the popular evening cable news shows.
Is this due to the importance of the subject matter? Is it due to my brilliant ability to title videos well? Nope.
The popularity of that channel comes down to people, lots of people who care about the issues I discuss, "Liking" the videos when they watch them. YouTube's algorithm places a lot of importance on viewer feedback, and the right combo of lots of views in a short period of time - with lots of genuine Liking - can bring an obscure video to the frontpage of YouTube (that has happened to me twice so far).
Your Facebook Likes, Google+ "+1s," and the links you tweet out to your friends on Twitter carry even more influence. This is something I discovered back when I was working mostly on Outlaw, the popular credit card deals comparison tool I founded several years ago. (Try it outhere.)
For a long time, I refused to put a Facebook Like button on any page of the site: I had moral issues with Facebook's lack of concern for user privacy, and the seemingly arrogant attitude of their young executives.
At the insistence of a fellow entrepreneur and friend, however, I decided to "test out" the Like button on my site - years after most other sites had adopted it & given in to the Facebook borg.
The results were immediate and shocking: an avalanche of new traffic, and new users trying out our credit card deals sorting tool, and best of all... it was good traffic. People referred by their friends take your product, article, or service SERIOUSLY.
You gain the kind of instant credibility that a paid advertisement or promotion will never achieve, regardless of how much you spend.
Furthermore, our search rankings improved dramatically after that button was added: Google and Bing are "informed" by social media actions. An article about NDAA, for example, that gets a lot of tweets and Facebook Likes, is likely to rank very high within search results.
For this reason, one of the most important things you can do - other than giving money to political candidates who aren't part of the establishment, and to organizations like the ACLU - is to seek out and "Like," tweet, & +1 every damn important article you find.
The mainstream media isn't covering the wave of disastrous legislation working its way through Congress, but luckily online media outlets such as The Huffington Post, Forbes, and Alternet are covering it plenty.
The information and commentary is getting out there. Its your job to make sure it does as well as possible, reaching an audience as large as possible. Your Facebook Likes do more than make you feel good about yourself. They do more than tell your friends what you find to be important reading.
If more people used social media to promote critical issues, instead of dumb viral videos and Urban Outfitters skirts, I am certain we would see a speedy restoration of our civil rights - and of a democratic, legitimate system of checks and balances where outrageous ideas like "imprisonment without trial" and "warrantless wiretapping of American citizens" are immediately shot down, ridiculed, and mothballed.