Martin Luther King Jr.’s Influence On Social Media [Quotes]

I Have A Social Media Dream

Martin Luther King Jr. helped people who didn’t have a voice come together and change the world’s perspective on racial issues in America with eloquent words and emotion.  As we honor him, let his teachings guide our actions since they still hold true in today’s social media empowered world.

Almost half a century later, social media helped people have a voice and take peaceful action during the Arab Spring.  How different would Dr. King’s movement been if he had had social media tools? 

Here are seven quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. that teach us how to live as well as how to participate on social media platforms.

  1. “You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”  Social media is scary. Everything is public. (Don’t think so? Check this article on privacy.) In today’s connected world, you have to take baby steps to find your way. The best guidance can’t substitute for actual participation. Once you do though, you’ll find people ready to welcome and engage with you.  Social Media Lesson: Listen to Dr. King, “Take the first step in faith.” Just do it.
  2. “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’” Dr. King’s words ring true on social media where it’s expected that participants and marketers pay-it-forward. Unlike other media platforms, social media is about the community and the greater good. Participation is more about what you can contribute to the community, not what’s in it for you. Social Media Lesson: Find a way to help others each day. It can be as small as acknowledging someone’s birthday or good post.
  3. “Means we use must be as pure as the ends we seek.” Social media heeds Dr. King’s lessons. One of the reasons marketers and businesses are afraid of social media is that it requires a level of transparency. It’s not about deceptive gotcha marketing. From a business perspective, it can be scary because the public has media tools to make themselves heard. Social Media Lesson: There are no ends, only means. You can’t justify deception by saying it’s for a good cause. You are as good as your deeds.
  4. “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into [a] friend.” What a beautiful way to express this sentiment. Social media enables marketers to listen to disgruntled customers and their problems. By acknowledging them and responding to these issues, marketers can turn angry customers into raving fans. Social Media Lesson: Pay attention to what prospects, customers and the public are saying about your organization. Respond to issues quickly and sincerely to fix problems.
  5. “Never succumb to the temptation of bitterness.” How true! Since we’ve always got an electronic device within arm’s reach, our fingers can quickly tap out a response without ever thinking about the person at the other end of the communication and their current situation and perspective. Social Media Lesson: Take time before you answer or leave a negative comment on social media. Your words will be there forever. Understand that the writer might not speak the language or have another reason for his communication.
  6. “A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.” Social media is about disseminating information that helps others as well as taking action for the collective good. Social Media Lesson: When you communicate on social media, think us, not me! What can you do to help others and improve the small world around you.
  7. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Since social media provides the tools to enable anyone to be a publisher, we have the ability to reach out and let our voices be heard in support of our better ideals. Social Media Lesson: Social media platforms aren’t just about idle chatter and push marketing messages. They’re true social tools for change. Think about how you can help make the community better one small communication at a time.

Marketers and social media participants can learn a lot about how to engage on social media and, more broadly, life in general by paying attention to Dr. King’s teachings. May we all be better for it.

What other Martin Luther King Jr. quotes resonate with you as they relate to social media?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

To learn more about Dr. King, please check out the King Center for Non-violent Social Change.

Here are some related articles of interest.

Photo credit:


Tags , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Martin Luther King Jr.’s Influence On Social Media [Quotes]

  1. Amy says:

    Just take the first step. So profound and can be interpreted for any decision in life, but it just rings SO true of those unsure of growing awareness with social media. Just do it! Being a part of the conversation will only help you!

    • Heidi Cohen says:

      Amy — I agree with you. It’s the universality of Dr. King’s words that resonate today. On social media, where many individuals and firms are afraid, we have to take that first step. Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

  2. davek says:

    A) People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other > Fear as a barrier to adoption of Social Media Marketing

    One more for the corporate:

    b) Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness > Could be applied to corporate CEOs or marketers who still believe that consumers dont drive innovation and that marketing is none of the buyer’s arena anymore.

  3. Dave says:

    Very well written Heidi. What resonates in your post is that for all social media participants, its about communicating a message while at the same time being kind. Keep up the good work!