Social media is more than Facebook, Twitter and U-Tube, it is a suite of tools that enables rapid connections to be made, it creates and leverages knowledge, and enables very rapid development of an organisation of those who may be unconnected physically.
Imagine, the government decides to put a waste plant in the local park of your community. Predictably, there will be substantial local opposition in the local community who will want it elsewhere.
Under the “old” way of organizing a protest, someone would get on the phone, and try to stir up some passion and get people to a rally in Macquarie Street, (and a few will turn up so long as it does not rain), letters will be written to the local member, the Minister, the local council, and a few others, and the kids will run a partition around the neighborhood. Not very effective.
Under the “new” way, someone will register a domain “stopthewasteincroydon.org” and a site that will collect views, stories about how the kids use the park, signatures, disseminate information, clog up every conceivable receiver with emails, provide links to the U-tube footage of kids playing then being herded off the park by officious waste managers (actors, probably the kids dads) , and generally make a very big noise against the development. Very effective, the Anti position suddenly has real teeth, because it enabled the anti case to be developed then managed in a way that it has a geometric impact on the receivers, all because the new communication tools were used to assemble and leverage a set of views that would have otherwise been individual, and nowhere near as powerful.