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Future of Engagement #4: Grassroots Change Movements

Brands and people act together around a shared purpose to create meaningful change.

What are Grassroots Change Movements?

Grassroots change movements involve a large numbers of people acting as change agents, in their own lives or in their communities, in a way that their actions can be aggregated or coordinated, leading to significant impact and meaningful change. Grassroots change movements might be catalyzed and managed by organizations, including corporations, or they might be sparked by an event and spontaneously spread through the initiative of volunteers. Many grassroots change movements are political and focus on issues like human rights, freedom of expression and economic equality. Now, many organizations are applying a similar approach to catalyze behavior change and create shared value in the areas of environment, energy and sustainability; health, wellness and nutrition; education, learning and capability building; and happiness, kindness and human potential.

Grassroots change movements have moved into the mainstream due to four important dynamics. First, people have new types of power: to access information, connect with each other, express their opinions, and change the course of public debate. Second, people don’t trust organizations; in fact, trust in all organizations is at an all-time low across the world, and people believe that they themselves can drive real change, not governments or corporations. Third, people are searching for meaningful connections with communities around a shared purpose; they expect organizations to enable such connections, and are willing to reward organizations who do. Finally, the scale of social networks (Facebook has one billion members globally), the ease of one-click sharing via Facebook Likes and Twitter Retweets, and the virality of popularity-driven activity streams have made it easy for people, especially Gen Y, to participate in and help spread such movements.

Unilever CEO Paul Polman succinctly summed up the power of social movements and their importance for corporations:

“If [social media activists] can bring down the Egyptian regime in a few weeks, they can bring us down in nanoseconds.”

We have seen a number of grassroots change movements, in which social media has played an important role. Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street (video), India Against Corruption, Spain’s 15-M  (video) and Mexico’s Yo Soy 132 (video) focused on economic equality and political regime change. Kony2012 (video) and Free Pussy Riot (video) focused on human rights in Uganda and Russia. WWF’s Earth Hour (video) and 350 (video) focus on climate change. It Gets Better (video) and All Out (video) focus on LGBT issues. Bono’s ONE (video) and (RED) (video) fight poverty and AIDS in Africa. Movember (video) rallies people around men’s health, Adbusters’ Buy Nothing Day (video) promotes anti-consumerism, Free Hugs Campaign (video) encourages human kindness and Startup Weekend supports entrepreneurship.

350

We have also seen an ecosystem of dedicated platforms and products to support such movements. Change.org (video), Avaaz.org (video), Care2 (video) and Causes (video) are amongst the leading platforms for change makers to start and support petitions, raise and donate funds, recruit and volunteer, and create and share content, each with several million members. Edward Norton’s Crowdrise (video) partners with celebrities to raise funds for non-profits. eBay co-founder Jeff Skoll’s Participant Media and Take Part use socially conscious movies like An Inconvenient Truth, Contagion and Food Inc to promote social actions. Agencies like Blue State Digital, Purpose and GoodCorps exclusively focus on creating social movements, while organizations like New Organizing Institute help build capabilities for grassroots organizers. Finally, change makers use platforms like Meetup, UStream and Kickstarter (video) to organize events, live stream video or raise funds.

Participant Media: A well told story can make a difference

Some grassroots change movements have achieved significant impact. The Arab Spring movement led to a series of regime changes across the Middle East. The Occupy movement and Take the Square movements have spread to over 100 cities in the United States and over 1500 cities globally. 1.1 million people worldwide registered for the Movember movement in 2012 and raised $135 million for men’s health.

The success of such grassroots change movements shows that people have the desire and the tools to participate and act to drive change around a shared purpose they are passionate about.

How Do Grassroots Change Movements Work?

Grassroots change movements typically involve four change drivers: a shared purpose to inspire people, an ongoing platform to organize people, a series of interconnected programs to energize people, and stories to spark participation and action.

Almost all grassroots change movements have a strong shared purpose. Often, the purpose is to oppose a harmful practice, prevent a negative outcome, or fight to protect something, but movements focused on positive outcomes also work (Free Hugs Campaign (video)). Often, movements are initiated by an individual, a small group, or an organization, and then carried forward by volunteers and supporters.

Many movement organizers provide ‘how-to’ guides to show supporters how to get involved (Earth Hour (video), It Gets Better (video)). The best movements create a ladder of engagement for supporters, to first get them involved with simple actions like signing petitions, voting for causes, or sharing content; then get them more engaged by asking them to share personal stories, donate money, buy merchandise, or volunteer time; and finally convert them into partners by inspiring them to recruit supporters, raise funds, or organize local events. Some movement platforms also use gamification features, like points and leader boards, to move supporters up the ladder of engagement (Movember (video)).

Movember – Fundraising Tips

Even writer Evgeny Morozov, who rails against “slacktivism” in his book Net Delusion recognizes the value of this approach:

“Create diverse, distinctive, and non-trivial tasks; your supporters can do more than just click “send to all” button” all day. Facebook could actually be a boon for those organizing a campaign; they just need to figure out a way in which to capitalize on identity aspiration of “slacktivists” by giving them interesting and meaningful tasks that could then be evaluated.”

If a movement becomes successful, the original leaders find ways to spread the movement across the world, while maintaining its original spirit (Adbusters/ Occupy). Many movement organizers also create guides to help volunteers organize local chapters or events (How to Occupy, Earth Hour, 350, Startup Weekend). Some organizers create interactive maps, so that supporters can easily find local chapters (Earth Hour, 350, Take the Square).

Movement platforms can be designed to have ongoing engagement, like an online community or a physical space, or periodical engagement, like an annual event or an annual contest (Movember, Earth Hour). The most successful movements keep supporters engaged through a series of interconnected programs (350 2010 summary, 350 2011 summary, Kony MOVE:DC, Kony Cover the Night) and a stream of stories, often shared by the community members themselves (We Are the 99%, It Gets Better).

All Out

Sometimes, these programs result in offshoot projects that spread the movement to new constituents or in new directions (Occupy Network). Often, other organizations join in a movement and create their own offshoot projects, helping the movement grow (Amnesty International Free Pussy Riot Map).

Many movement organizers proactively seek the support of celebrities to gain more visibility. Invisible Children asked supporters to email or tweet to specific celebrities whose support could spread their message. Earth Hour partnered with celebrities to create the I Will If You Will campaign.

Earth Hour I Will If You Will

Finally, stories and content play a big role in sparking a wave of sharing and participation, which help movements go viral and achieve results. For instance, the Kony2012 video has received 95 millions views on YouTube and attracted global attention to the Kony 2012 campaign. The Free Hugs Campaign video has received 74 million views. The original It Gets Better video has received more than 2 million views and the response videos have more than 50 million views collectively.

Free Hugs Campaign

Grassroots Change Movements for Brands

Brands are realizing the power of grassroots change movements and creating movement marketing initiatives to benefit from them.

Scott Goodson, author of the movement marketing book Uprising summarizes how movement marketing works:

“You start by identifying a powerful idea on the rise in culture. You then join, fuel and add real tangible value to the idea through innovative marketing and social media. People who share the passion for the idea join the cause. And rally others to get involved too. And so, a movement is born, which smart brands can profit from.”

Brands can engage in grassroots change movements at many levels, starting with participating in existing movements, then creating their own campaigns around purpose and participation, and finally catalyzing and committing to long-term movements.

Many brands start by participating in or partnering with movements that resonate with their values, and encouraging their employees to participate. For instance, Gap (video) and Google (video) encouraged their LGTB employees to create videos to participate in the It Gets Better movement. Several brands have supported the Earth Hour and (RED) movements, and some have played significant roles in promoting these. For instance, Starbucks with its annual {RED) programs (2008 video, 2009 video, 2010 video) has raised more than $10 million for the (RED) Global Fund.

Starbucks RED

Some brands create short-term campaigns around purpose and participation, but stop short of committing to them long enough to turn them into movements (GE Celebrate What Works). Sometimes, these short-term campaigns are a part of long-term purpose-led programs (GE Ecomagination Tag Your Green (video).

Brands that have committed to long-term movement marketing initiatives can take three distinct routes. They can rally people to support a cause or raise funds for it; they can inspire people to change their own behavior in a way that adds up to meaningful change; and, they can create ecosystems to support changemakers who are creating change in their own communities.

Some brands see movement marketing as an extension of cause marketing, and create campaigns that rally support for a cause. Here, brands typically partner with a non-profit and make a donation to it, often based on sales or community participation, but also create content that inspires community members to pledge support, share their own stories and spread the word. For instance, Google Take Action (video) rallied people to pledge their support for a free and open web. Aircel Save Our Tigers (video) catalyzed a public debate in India to protect tigers. Brand crowdfunding programs, like Chase Community Giving (video), American Express Members Project (video), and Starbucks Vote.Give.Grow, that ask community members to support non-profits by volunteering or donating money can also be included in this category.

Increasingly, brands are creating movements marketing campaigns that focus on inspiring people to change their own behavior, and aggregating these actions so that they add up to meaningful change. For instance, P&G’s Secret Mean Stinks (video) aims to end girl-to-girl bullying and inspire girls to gang up for good and be nice to each other. Sometimes, these behavior changes movements can be fun and whimsical. For instance, Doritos in Argentina created a movement to bring slow dancing back (video).

Some brands create an annual event to focus their effort to bring about behavior change. For instance, American Express’ Small Business Saturday encourages Americans to shop at independent stores, each year on the Saturday following Thanksgiving (2010 video, 2011 video, 2012 video). Other brands create a series of interconnected behavior change campaigns around their shared purpose, or Social Heartbeat. For instance, over the years, Starbucks has created a series of movement marketing campaigns in the US, which link back to its shared purpose of being the “third place” and nurturing community values (vote in the 2008 elections, pledge 5 hours of volunteer time, change local communities, bring your own tumblr, help create jobs). Tata Tea Jaago Re in India has created campaigns to inspired people to register to vote, volunteer for causes and spread positivity. MSLGROUP has helped Alpenliebe inspire millions of young people in China to share, appreciate and engage in everyday acts of kindness, through a movement marketing campaign that is now entering its third year.

Some of these behavior change movements can also be seen as behavior change games. For instance, Nike has created a series of campaigns, increasingly around Nike Plus and Nike Fuel (video), which use gamification features like challenges and levels to inspire people to become more active (Nike Global Game on World, Nike Hong Kong Make It Count, Nike Mexico Bid Your Sweat, Nike Global Missions).

Finally, some brands are creating long-term platforms, with the intention of creating an ecosystem to connect changemakers and build capabilities. These platforms provide the tools and the enabling ecosystem for people to act as change agents in their own communities. Often, these platforms ask community members to create their own grassroots change projects and activate their networks to get funding and scale their projects. For instance, both Mahindra Spark the Rise (video) and Pepsi Refresh Project (video) created platforms to support changemakers that created significant impact. We have covered both these initiatives in our Future of Engagement reports on crowdfunding and collaborative social innovation.

In summary, brands can create a campaign around purpose and participation, but it becomes a movement only if people make it their own. For movement marketing to work, the brand needs to think of itself as a custodian of the movement, not its owner; it needs to nurture the movement over multiple years, but also create the space for it to become bigger than the brand itself. If a brand tries to control the movement, and keep it on message, the movement is likely to be stillborn, or die a slow death.

The Future of Grassroots Change Movements

In the near future, we expect grassroots change movements to become the norm for civic participation as Gen Ys and Gen Zs learn more powerful ways to connect online and offline to support causes they believe in. As smartphones become ubiquitous, and location awareness becomes an integral part of how we connect with each other on social networks, we expect the boundaries between online and offline action to blur. With people exercising their power in a more organized fashion, all types of organizations, including governments, public institutions and corporations, will need to understand how movements and create crisis response plans in anticipation of public uprisings.

With non-profit organizations and activists adopting grassroots change movements as the primary mode to rally support for their causes, we expect that people will begin to feel movement fatigue, especially for movements that involve fighting against something. Instead, we expect people to channel their energies towards movements that aim to create positive change in the areas of environment, health, education and human potential and participate in collaborative social innovation initiatives to co-create sustainable solutions for complex problems.

Specifically, we expect that people will grow tired of the many movements that ask them to engage in simple tasks like signing a petition, voting for causes, or sharing content. Instead, they will participate in a smaller number of movements and engage in more meaningful acts like donating money, volunteering time, or organizing local events. In a related trend, we expect grassroots change movements to look more like behavior change games, with platforms that enable people to set personal goals, undertake quests, track their progress and receive support. We also expect that transmedia storytelling will play an increasingly important role in cutting through the cacophony of a million movements, building an emotion connection with people, and inspiring them to participate and act.

We expect that movement marketing will become the norm for brands, and most brands will experiment with it to engage Gen Ys and Gen Zs. In response, we will see a rise in cynicism for such programs, with people accusing brands of “movement-washing”. To create successful movements, brands will not only need to create campaigns to catalyze the movement, but also commit to the movement for the long term. Brands will be expected to show their commitment to the movement by going beyond engaging celebrity endorsers and asking community members to share their stories, and creating long term platforms to enable behavior change, support changemakers, or co-create solutions. Brands will also need to take action themselves to show that they have skin in the game and create compelling content to inspire community members to take action.

In essence, brands will have to learn the four skills writers Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith outline in their bookThe Dragonfly Effect:

“1) focus: identify a single concrete and measurable goal; 2) grab attention: cut through the noise of social media with something authentic and memorable; 3) engage: create a personal connection, accessing higher emotions, compassion, empathy, and happiness; and 4) take action: enable and empower others to take action.”

Finally, corporations will need to learn how to participate in, and even catalyze, multistakeholder movements to shape public opinion. For instance, MSLGROUP in Sweden created the Job Roast initiative to spark a public debate on youth employment before the elections.

The JobRoast: Public Affairs, Dragon’s Den style

– X – X – X –

This is a chapter from a MSLGROUP report titled “Now & Next: Future of Engagement” that I wrote with Pascal Beucler and Nidhi Makhija.

The report highlights the ten most important frontiers that will define the future of engagement for marketers, entrepreneurs and changemakers: CrowdfundingBehavior Change GamesCollaborative Social InnovationGrassroots Change MovementsCo-creation CommunitiesSocial CurationTransmedia Storytelling, Collective Intelligence, Social Live Experiences and Collaborative Consumption.

In each of these reports, we start by describing why they are important, how they work, and how brands might benefit from them; we then examine web platforms and brand programs that point to the future (that is already here); then finish by identifying some of the most important features of that future, with our recommendations on how to benefit from them.

Future of Engagement report on SlideShare

Future of Engagement slide deck on SlideShare

Future of Engagement video infographic on YouTube

Future of Engagement infographic on Visually


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Brands and people act together around a shared purpose to create meaningful change.

What are Grassroots Change Movements?

Grassroots change movements involve a large numbers of people acting as change agents, in their own lives or in their communities, in a way that their actions can be aggregated or coordinated, leading to significant impact and meaningful change. Grassroots change movements might be catalyzed and managed by organizations, including corporations, or they might be sparked by an event and spontaneously spread through the initiative of volunteers. Many grassroots change movements are political and focus on issues like human rights, freedom of expression and economic equality. Now, many organizations are applying a similar approach to catalyze behavior change and create shared value in the areas of environment, energy and sustainability; health, wellness and nutrition; education, learning and capability building; and happiness, kindness and human potential.

Grassroots change movements have moved into the mainstream due to four important dynamics. First, people have new types of power: to access information, connect with each other, express their opinions, and change the course of public debate. Second, people don’t trust organizations; in fact, trust in all organizations is at an all-time low across the world, and people believe that they themselves can drive real change, not governments or corporations. Third, people are searching for meaningful connections with communities around a shared purpose; they expect organizations to enable such connections, and are willing to reward organizations who do. Finally, the scale of social networks (Facebook has one billion members globally), the ease of one-click sharing via Facebook Likes and Twitter Retweets, and the virality of popularity-driven activity streams have made it easy for people, especially Gen Y, to participate in and help spread such movements.

Unilever CEO Paul Polman succinctly summed up the power of social movements and their importance for corporations:

“If [social media activists] can bring down the Egyptian regime in a few weeks, they can bring us down in nanoseconds.”

We have seen a number of grassroots change movements, in which social media has played an important role. Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, India Against Corruption, Spain’s 15-M and Mexico’s Yo Soy 132 focused on economic equality and political regime change. Kony2012 and Free Pussy Riot focused on human rights in Uganda and Russia. WWF’s Earth Hour and 350 focus on climate change. It Gets Better and All Out focus on LGBT issues. Bono’s ONE and RED fight poverty and AIDS in Africa. Movember rallies people around men’s health, Adbusters’ Buy Nothing Day promotes anti-consumerism, Free Hugs Campaign encourages human kindness and Startup Weekend supports entrepreneurship.

350

We have also seen an ecosystem of dedicated platforms and products to support such movements. Change.org, Avaaz.org, Care2 and Causes are amongst the leading platforms for changemakers to start and support petitions, raise and donate funds, recruit and volunteer, and create and share content, each with several million members. Edward Norton’s Crowdrise partners with celebrities to raise funds for non-profits. eBay co-founder Jeff Skoll’s Participant Media and Take Part use socially conscious movies like An Inconvenient Truth, Contagion and Food Inc to promote social actions. Agencies like Blue State Digital, Purpose and GoodCorps exclusively focus on creating social movements, while organizations like New Organizing Institute help build capabilities for grassroots organizers. Finally, changemakers use platforms like Meetup, UStream and Kickstarter to organize events, livestream video or raise funds.

Participant Media/ Take Part

Some grassroots change movements have achieved significant impact. The Arab Spring movement led to a series of regime changes across the Middle East. The Occupy movement and Take the Square movements have spread to over 100 cities in the United States and over 1500 cities globally. 1.1 million people worldwide registered for the Movember movement in 2012 and raised $135 million for men’s health.

The success of such grassroots change movements shows that people have the desire and the tools to participate and act to drive change around a shared purpose they are passionate about.

How Do Grassroots Change Movements Work?

Grassroots change movements typically involve four change drivers: a shared purpose to inspire people, an ongoing platform to organize people, a series of interconnected programs to energize people, and stories to spark participation and action.

Almost all grassroots change movements have a strong shared purpose. Often, the purpose is to oppose a harmful practice, prevent a negative outcome, or fight to protect something, but movements focused on positive outcomes also work (Free Hugs Campaign). Often, movements are initiated by an individual, a small group, or an organization, and then carried forward by volunteers and supporters.

Many movement organizers provide ‘how-to’ guides to show supporters how to get involved (Earth Hour, It Gets Better). The best movements create a ladder of engagement for supporters, to first get them involved with simple actions like signing petitions, voting for causes, or sharing content; then get them more engaged by asking them to share personal stories, donate money, buy merchandise, or volunteer time; and finally convert them into partners by inspiring them to recruit supporters, raise funds, or organize local events. Some movement platforms also use gamification features, like points and leaderboards, to move supporters up the ladder of engagement. (Movember).

Movember – Fundraising Tips

Even writer Evgeny Morozov, who rails against “slacktivism” in his book Net Delusion recognizes the value of this approach:

“Create diverse, distinctive, and non-trivial tasks; your supporters can do more than just click “send to all” button” all day. Facebook could actually be a boon for those organizing a campaign; they just need to figure out a way in which to capitalize on identity aspiration of “slacktivists” by giving them interesting and meaningful tasks that could then be evaluated.”

If a movement becomes successful, the original leaders find ways to spread the movement across the world, while maintaining its original spirit (Adbusters/ Occupy). Many movement organizers also create guides to help volunteers organize local chapters or events (How to Occupy, Earth Hour, 350, Startup Weekend). Some organizers create interactive maps, so that supporters can easily find local chapters (Earth Hour, 350, Take the Square).

Movement platforms can be designed to have ongoing engagement, like an online community or a physical space, or periodical engagement, like an annual event or an annual contest (Movember, Earth Hour). The most successful movements keep supporters engaged through a series of interconnected programs (350 2010 summary, 350 2011 summary, Kony MOVE:DC, Kony Cover the Night) and a stream of stories, often shared by the community members themselves (We Are the 99%, It Gets Better).

All Out

Sometimes, these programs result in offshoot projects that spread the movement to new constituents or in new directions (Occupy Network). Often, other organizations join in a movement and create their own offshoot projects, helping the movement grow (Amnesty International Free Pussy Riot Map).

Many movement organizers proactively seek the support of celebrities to gain more visibility. Invisible Children asked supporters to email or tweet to specific celebrities whose support could spread their message. Earth Hour partnered with celebrities to create the I Will If You Will campaign.

Earth Hour I Will If You Will

Finally, stories and content play a big role in sparking a wave of sharing and participation, which help movements go viral and achieve results. For instance, the Kony2012 video has received 95 millions views on YouTube and attracted global attention to the Kony 2012 campaign. The Free Hugs Campaign video has received 74 million views. The original It Gets Better video has received more than 2 million views and the response videos have more than 50 million views collectively.

Free Hugs Campaign

Grassroots Change Movements for Brands

Brands are realizing the power of grassroots change movements and creating movement marketing initiatives to benefit from them.

Scott Goodson, author of the movement marketing book Uprising summarizes how movement marketing works:

“You start by identifying a powerful idea on the rise in culture. You then join, fuel and add real tangible value to the idea through innovative marketing and social media. People who share the passion for the idea join the cause. And rally others to get involved too. And so, a movement is born, which smart brands can profit from.”

Brands can engage in grassroots change movements at many levels, starting with participating in existing movements, then creating their own campaigns around purpose and participation, and finally catalyzing and committing to long-term movements.

Many brands start by participating in or partnering with movements that resonate with their values, and encouraging their employees to participate. For instance, Gap and Google encouraged their LGTB employees to create videos to participate in the It Gets Better movement. Several brands have supported the Earth Hour and (RED) movements, and some have played significant roles in promoting these. For instance, Starbucks with its annual {RED) programs (2008 video, 2009 video, 2010 video) has raised more than $10 million for the (RED) Global Fund.

Starbucks RED

Some brands create short-term campaigns around purpose and participation, but stop short of committing to them long enough to turn them into movements (GE Celebrate What Works). Sometimes, these short-term campaigns are a part of long-term purpose-led programs (GE Ecomagination Tag Your Green (video).

Brands that have committed to long-term movement marketing initiatives can take three distinct routes. They can rally people to support a cause or raise funds for it; they can inspire people to change their own behavior in a way that adds up to meaningful change; and, they can create ecosystems to support changemakers who are creating change in their own communities.

Some brands see movement marketing as an extension of cause marketing, and create campaigns that rally support for a cause. Here, brands typically partner with a non-profit and make a donation to it, often based on sales or community participation, but also create content that inspires community members to pledge support, share their own stories and spread the word. For instance, Google Take Action (video) rallied people to pledge their support for a free and open web. Aircel Save Our Tigers (video) catalyzed a public debate in India to protect tigers. Brand crowdfunding programs, like Chase Community Giving (video), American Express Members Project (video), and Starbucks Vote.Give.Grow, that ask community members to support non-profits by volunteering or donating money can also be included in this category.

Increasingly, brands are creating movements marketing campaigns that focus on inspiring people to change their own behavior, and aggregating these actions so that they add up to meaningful change. For instance, P&G’s Secret Mean Stinks (video) aims to end girl-to-girl bullying and inspire girls to gang up for good and be nice to each other. Sometimes, these behavior changes movements can be fun and whimsical. For instance, Doritos in Argentina created a movement to bring slow dancing back (video).

Some brands create an annual event to focus their effort to bring about behavior change. For instance, American Express’ Small Business Saturday encourages Americans to shop at independent stores, each year on the Saturday following Thanksgiving (2010 video, 2011 video, 2012 video). Other brands create a series of interconnected behavior change campaigns around their shared purpose, or Social Heartbeat. For instance, over the years, Starbucks has created a series of movement marketing campaigns in the US, which link back to its shared purpose of being the “third place” and nurturing community values (vote in the 2008 elections, pledge 5 hours of volunteer time, change local communities, bring your own tumblr, help create jobs). Tata Tea Jaago Re in India has created campaigns to inspired people to register to vote, volunteer for causes and spread positivity. MSLGROUP has helped Alpenliebe inspire millions of young people in China to share, appreciate and engage in everyday acts of kindness, through a movement marketing campaign that is now entering its third year.

Some of these behavior change movements can also be seen as behavior change games. For instance, Nike has created a series of campaigns, increasingly around Nike Plus and Nike Fuel, which use gamification features like challenges and levels to inspire people to become more active (Nike Global Game on World, Nike Hong Kong Make It Count, Nike Mexico Bid Your Sweat, Nike Global Missions).

Finally, some brands are creating long-term platforms, with the intention of creating an ecosystem to connect changemakers and build capabilities. These platforms provide the tools and the enabling ecosystem for people to act as change agents in their own communities. Often, these platforms ask community members to create their own grassroots change projects and activate their networks to get funding and scale their projects. For instance, both Mahindra Spark the Rise (video) and Pepsi Refresh Project (video) created platforms to support changemakers that created significant impact. We have covered both these initiatives in our Future of Engagement reports on crowdfunding and collaborative social innovation.

In summary, brands can create a campaign around purpose and participation, but it becomes a movement only if people make it their own. For movement marketing to work, the brand needs to think of itself as a custodian of the movement, not its owner; it needs to nurture the movement over multiple years, but also create the space for it to become bigger than the brand itself. If a brand tries to control the movement, and keep it on message, the movement is likely to be stillborn, or die a slow death.

The Future of Grassroots Change Movements

In the near future, we expect grassroots change movements to become the norm for civic participation as Gen Ys and Gen Zs learn more powerful ways to connect online and offline to support causes they believe in. As smartphones become ubiquitous, and location awareness becomes an integral part of how we connect with each other on social networks, we expect the boundaries between online and offline action to blur. With people exercising their power in a more organized fashion, all types of organizations, including governments, public institutions and corporations, will need to understand how movements and create crisis response plans in anticipation of public uprisings.

With non-profit organizations and activists adopting grassroots change movements as the primary mode to rally support for their causes, we expect that people will begin to feel movement fatigue, especially for movements that involve fighting against something. Instead, we expect people to channel their energies towards movements that aim to create positive change in the areas of environment, health, education and human potential and participate in collaborative social innovation initiatives to co-create sustainable solutions for complex problems.

Specifically, we expect that people will grow tired of the many movements that ask them to engage in simple tasks like signing a petition, voting for causes, or sharing content. Instead, they will participate in a smaller number of movements and engage in more meaningful acts like donating money, volunteering time, or organizing local events. In a related trend, we expect grassroots change movements to look more like behavior change games, with platforms that enable people to set personal goals, undertake quests, track their progress and receive support. We also expect that transmedia storytelling will play an increasingly important role in cutting through the cacophony of a million movements, building an emotion connection with people, and inspiring them to participate and act.

We expect that movement marketing will become the norm for brands, and most brands will experiment with it to engage Gen Ys and Gen Zs. In response, we will see a rise in cynicism for such programs, with people accusing brands of “movement-washing”. To create successful movements, brands will not only need to create campaigns to catalyze the movement, but also commit to the movement for the long term. Brands will be expected to show their commitment to the movement by going beyond engaging celebrity endorsers and asking community members to share their stories, and creating long term platforms to enable behavior change, support changemakers, or co-create solutions. Brands will also need to take action themselves to show that they have skin in the game and create compelling content to inspire community members to take action.

In essence, brands will have to learn the four skills writers Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith outline in their book The Dragonfly Effect:

“1) focus: identify a single concrete and measurable goal; 2) grab attention: cut through the noise of social media with something authentic and memorable; 3) engage: create a personal connection, accessing higher emotions, compassion, empathy, and happiness; and 4) take action: enable and empower others to take action.”

Finally, corporations will need to learn how to participate in, and even catalyze, multistakeholder movements to shape public opinion. For instance, MSLGROUP in Sweden created the Job Roast initiative to spark a public debate on youth employment before the elections.

The JobRoast: Public Affairs, Dragon’s Den style

– X – X – X –

This is the fourth report from an upcoming report titled “Now & Next: Future of Engagement” that I am writing with Pascal Beucler and Nidhi Makhija. The report will highlight the ten most important frontiers that will define the future of engagement for marketers, entrepreneurs and change makers: CrowdfundingBehavior Change GamesCollaborative Social InnovationGrassroots Change MovementsCo-creation CommunitiesSocial CurationTransmedia Storytelling, Collective Intelligence, Social Live Experiences and Sharing Economy.

In each of these reports, we start by describing why they are important, how they work, and how brands might benefit from them; we then examine web platforms and brand programs that point to the future (that is already here); then finish by identifying some of the most important features of that future, with our recommendations on how to benefit from them.


Link to original post

0 Comments

Leave a reply

Brands and people act together around a shared purpose to create meaningful change.

What are Grassroots Change Movements?

Grassroots change movements involve a large numbers of people acting as change agents, in their own lives or in their communities, in a way that their actions can be aggregated or coordinated, leading to significant impact and meaningful change. Grassroots change movements might be catalyzed and managed by organizations, including corporations, or they might be sparked by an event and spontaneously spread through the initiative of volunteers. Many grassroots change movements are political and focus on issues like human rights, freedom of expression and economic equality. Now, many organizations are applying a similar approach to catalyze behavior change and create shared value in the areas of environment, energy and sustainability; health, wellness and nutrition; education, learning and capability building; and happiness, kindness and human potential.

Grassroots change movements have moved into the mainstream due to four important dynamics. First, people have new types of power: to access information, connect with each other, express their opinions, and change the course of public debate. Second, people don’t trust organizations; in fact, trust in all organizations is at an all-time low across the world, and people believe that they themselves can drive real change, not governments or corporations. Third, people are searching for meaningful connections with communities around a shared purpose; they expect organizations to enable such connections, and are willing to reward organizations who do. Finally, the scale of social networks (Facebook has one billion members globally), the ease of one-click sharing via Facebook Likes and Twitter Retweets, and the virality of popularity-driven activity streams have made it easy for people, especially Gen Y, to participate in and help spread such movements.

Unilever CEO Paul Polman succinctly summed up the power of social movements and their importance for corporations:

“If [social media activists] can bring down the Egyptian regime in a few weeks, they can bring us down in nanoseconds.”

We have seen a number of grassroots change movements, in which social media has played an important role. Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, India Against Corruption, Spain’s 15-M and Mexico’s Yo Soy 132 focused on economic equality and political regime change. Kony2012 and Free Pussy Riot focused on human rights in Uganda and Russia. WWF’s Earth Hour and 350 focus on climate change. It Gets Better and All Out focus on LGBT issues. Bono’s ONE and RED fight poverty and AIDS in Africa. Movember rallies people around men’s health, Adbusters’ Buy Nothing Day promotes anti-consumerism, Free Hugs Campaign encourages human kindness and Startup Weekend supports entrepreneurship.

350

We have also seen an ecosystem of dedicated platforms and products to support such movements. Change.org, Avaaz.org, Care2 and Causes are amongst the leading platforms for changemakers to start and support petitions, raise and donate funds, recruit and volunteer, and create and share content, each with several million members. Edward Norton’s Crowdrise partners with celebrities to raise funds for non-profits. eBay co-founder Jeff Skoll’s Participant Media and Take Part use socially conscious movies like An Inconvenient Truth, Contagion and Food Inc to promote social actions. Agencies like Blue State Digital, Purpose and GoodCorps exclusively focus on creating social movements, while organizations like New Organizing Institute help build capabilities for grassroots organizers. Finally, changemakers use platforms like Meetup, UStream and Kickstarter to organize events, livestream video or raise funds.

Participant Media/ Take Part

Some grassroots change movements have achieved significant impact. The Arab Spring movement led to a series of regime changes across the Middle East. The Occupy movement and Take the Square movements have spread to over 100 cities in the United States and over 1500 cities globally. 1.1 million people worldwide registered for the Movember movement in 2012 and raised $135 million for men’s health.

The success of such grassroots change movements shows that people have the desire and the tools to participate and act to drive change around a shared purpose they are passionate about.

How Do Grassroots Change Movements Work?

Grassroots change movements typically involve four change drivers: a shared purpose to inspire people, an ongoing platform to organize people, a series of interconnected programs to energize people, and stories to spark participation and action.

Almost all grassroots change movements have a strong shared purpose. Often, the purpose is to oppose a harmful practice, prevent a negative outcome, or fight to protect something, but movements focused on positive outcomes also work (Free Hugs Campaign). Often, movements are initiated by an individual, a small group, or an organization, and then carried forward by volunteers and supporters.

Many movement organizers provide ‘how-to’ guides to show supporters how to get involved (Earth Hour, It Gets Better). The best movements create a ladder of engagement for supporters, to first get them involved with simple actions like signing petitions, voting for causes, or sharing content; then get them more engaged by asking them to share personal stories, donate money, buy merchandise, or volunteer time; and finally convert them into partners by inspiring them to recruit supporters, raise funds, or organize local events. Some movement platforms also use gamification features, like points and leaderboards, to move supporters up the ladder of engagement. (Movember).

Movember – Fundraising Tips

Even writer Evgeny Morozov, who rails against “slacktivism” in his book Net Delusion recognizes the value of this approach:

“Create diverse, distinctive, and non-trivial tasks; your supporters can do more than just click “send to all” button” all day. Facebook could actually be a boon for those organizing a campaign; they just need to figure out a way in which to capitalize on identity aspiration of “slacktivists” by giving them interesting and meaningful tasks that could then be evaluated.”

If a movement becomes successful, the original leaders find ways to spread the movement across the world, while maintaining its original spirit (Adbusters/ Occupy). Many movement organizers also create guides to help volunteers organize local chapters or events (How to Occupy, Earth Hour, 350, Startup Weekend). Some organizers create interactive maps, so that supporters can easily find local chapters (Earth Hour, 350, Take the Square).

Movement platforms can be designed to have ongoing engagement, like an online community or a physical space, or periodical engagement, like an annual event or an annual contest (Movember, Earth Hour). The most successful movements keep supporters engaged through a series of interconnected programs (350 2010 summary, 350 2011 summary, Kony MOVE:DC, Kony Cover the Night) and a stream of stories, often shared by the community members themselves (We Are the 99%, It Gets Better).

All Out

Sometimes, these programs result in offshoot projects that spread the movement to new constituents or in new directions (Occupy Network). Often, other organizations join in a movement and create their own offshoot projects, helping the movement grow (Amnesty International Free Pussy Riot Map).

Many movement organizers proactively seek the support of celebrities to gain more visibility. Invisible Children asked supporters to email or tweet to specific celebrities whose support could spread their message. Earth Hour partnered with celebrities to create the I Will If You Will campaign.

Earth Hour I Will If You Will

Finally, stories and content play a big role in sparking a wave of sharing and participation, which help movements go viral and achieve results. For instance, the Kony2012 video has received 95 millions views on YouTube and attracted global attention to the Kony 2012 campaign. The Free Hugs Campaign video has received 74 million views. The original It Gets Better video has received more than 2 million views and the response videos have more than 50 million views collectively.

Free Hugs Campaign

Grassroots Change Movements for Brands

Brands are realizing the power of grassroots change movements and creating movement marketing initiatives to benefit from them.

Scott Goodson, author of the movement marketing book Uprising summarizes how movement marketing works:

“You start by identifying a powerful idea on the rise in culture. You then join, fuel and add real tangible value to the idea through innovative marketing and social media. People who share the passion for the idea join the cause. And rally others to get involved too. And so, a movement is born, which smart brands can profit from.”

Brands can engage in grassroots change movements at many levels, starting with participating in existing movements, then creating their own campaigns around purpose and participation, and finally catalyzing and committing to long-term movements.

Many brands start by participating in or partnering with movements that resonate with their values, and encouraging their employees to participate. For instance, Gap and Google encouraged their LGTB employees to create videos to participate in the It Gets Better movement. Several brands have supported the Earth Hour and (RED) movements, and some have played significant roles in promoting these. For instance, Starbucks with its annual {RED) programs (2008 video, 2009 video, 2010 video) has raised more than $10 million for the (RED) Global Fund.

Starbucks RED

Some brands create short-term campaigns around purpose and participation, but stop short of committing to them long enough to turn them into movements (GE Celebrate What Works). Sometimes, these short-term campaigns are a part of long-term purpose-led programs (GE Ecomagination Tag Your Green (video).

Brands that have committed to long-term movement marketing initiatives can take three distinct routes. They can rally people to support a cause or raise funds for it; they can inspire people to change their own behavior in a way that adds up to meaningful change; and, they can create ecosystems to support changemakers who are creating change in their own communities.

Some brands see movement marketing as an extension of cause marketing, and create campaigns that rally support for a cause. Here, brands typically partner with a non-profit and make a donation to it, often based on sales or community participation, but also create content that inspires community members to pledge support, share their own stories and spread the word. For instance, Google Take Action (video) rallied people to pledge their support for a free and open web. Aircel Save Our Tigers (video) catalyzed a public debate in India to protect tigers. Brand crowdfunding programs, like Chase Community Giving (video), American Express Members Project (video), and Starbucks Vote.Give.Grow, that ask community members to support non-profits by volunteering or donating money can also be included in this category.

Increasingly, brands are creating movements marketing campaigns that focus on inspiring people to change their own behavior, and aggregating these actions so that they add up to meaningful change. For instance, P&G’s Secret Mean Stinks (video) aims to end girl-to-girl bullying and inspire girls to gang up for good and be nice to each other. Sometimes, these behavior changes movements can be fun and whimsical. For instance, Doritos in Argentina created a movement to bring slow dancing back (video).

Some brands create an annual event to focus their effort to bring about behavior change. For instance, American Express’ Small Business Saturday encourages Americans to shop at independent stores, each year on the Saturday following Thanksgiving (2010 video, 2011 video, 2012 video). Other brands create a series of interconnected behavior change campaigns around their shared purpose, or Social Heartbeat. For instance, over the years, Starbucks has created a series of movement marketing campaigns in the US, which link back to its shared purpose of being the “third place” and nurturing community values (vote in the 2008 elections, pledge 5 hours of volunteer time, change local communities, bring your own tumblr, help create jobs). Tata Tea Jaago Re in India has created campaigns to inspired people to register to vote, volunteer for causes and spread positivity. MSLGROUP has helped Alpenliebe inspire millions of young people in China to share, appreciate and engage in everyday acts of kindness, through a movement marketing campaign that is now entering its third year.

Some of these behavior change movements can also be seen as behavior change games. For instance, Nike has created a series of campaigns, increasingly around Nike Plus and Nike Fuel, which use gamification features like challenges and levels to inspire people to become more active (Nike Global Game on World, Nike Hong Kong Make It Count, Nike Mexico Bid Your Sweat, Nike Global Missions).

Finally, some brands are creating long-term platforms, with the intention of creating an ecosystem to connect changemakers and build capabilities. These platforms provide the tools and the enabling ecosystem for people to act as change agents in their own communities. Often, these platforms ask community members to create their own grassroots change projects and activate their networks to get funding and scale their projects. For instance, both Mahindra Spark the Rise (video) and Pepsi Refresh Project (video) created platforms to support changemakers that created significant impact. We have covered both these initiatives in our Future of Engagement reports on crowdfunding and collaborative social innovation.

In summary, brands can create a campaign around purpose and participation, but it becomes a movement only if people make it their own. For movement marketing to work, the brand needs to think of itself as a custodian of the movement, not its owner; it needs to nurture the movement over multiple years, but also create the space for it to become bigger than the brand itself. If a brand tries to control the movement, and keep it on message, the movement is likely to be stillborn, or die a slow death.

The Future of Grassroots Change Movements

In the near future, we expect grassroots change movements to become the norm for civic participation as Gen Ys and Gen Zs learn more powerful ways to connect online and offline to support causes they believe in. As smartphones become ubiquitous, and location awareness becomes an integral part of how we connect with each other on social networks, we expect the boundaries between online and offline action to blur. With people exercising their power in a more organized fashion, all types of organizations, including governments, public institutions and corporations, will need to understand how movements and create crisis response plans in anticipation of public uprisings.

With non-profit organizations and activists adopting grassroots change movements as the primary mode to rally support for their causes, we expect that people will begin to feel movement fatigue, especially for movements that involve fighting against something. Instead, we expect people to channel their energies towards movements that aim to create positive change in the areas of environment, health, education and human potential and participate in collaborative social innovation initiatives to co-create sustainable solutions for complex problems.

Specifically, we expect that people will grow tired of the many movements that ask them to engage in simple tasks like signing a petition, voting for causes, or sharing content. Instead, they will participate in a smaller number of movements and engage in more meaningful acts like donating money, volunteering time, or organizing local events. In a related trend, we expect grassroots change movements to look more like behavior change games, with platforms that enable people to set personal goals, undertake quests, track their progress and receive support. We also expect that transmedia storytelling will play an increasingly important role in cutting through the cacophony of a million movements, building an emotion connection with people, and inspiring them to participate and act.

We expect that movement marketing will become the norm for brands, and most brands will experiment with it to engage Gen Ys and Gen Zs. In response, we will see a rise in cynicism for such programs, with people accusing brands of “movement-washing”. To create successful movements, brands will not only need to create campaigns to catalyze the movement, but also commit to the movement for the long term. Brands will be expected to show their commitment to the movement by going beyond engaging celebrity endorsers and asking community members to share their stories, and creating long term platforms to enable behavior change, support changemakers, or co-create solutions. Brands will also need to take action themselves to show that they have skin in the game and create compelling content to inspire community members to take action.

In essence, brands will have to learn the four skills writers Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith outline in their book The Dragonfly Effect:

“1) focus: identify a single concrete and measurable goal; 2) grab attention: cut through the noise of social media with something authentic and memorable; 3) engage: create a personal connection, accessing higher emotions, compassion, empathy, and happiness; and 4) take action: enable and empower others to take action.”

Finally, corporations will need to learn how to participate in, and even catalyze, multistakeholder movements to shape public opinion. For instance, MSLGROUP in Sweden created the Job Roast initiative to spark a public debate on youth employment before the elections.

The JobRoast: Public Affairs, Dragon’s Den style

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This is the fourth report from an upcoming report titled “Now & Next: Future of Engagement” that I am writing with Pascal Beucler and Nidhi Makhija. The report will highlight the ten most important frontiers that will define the future of engagement for marketers, entrepreneurs and change makers: CrowdfundingBehavior Change GamesCollaborative Social InnovationGrassroots Change MovementsCo-creation CommunitiesSocial CurationTransmedia Storytelling, Collective Intelligence, Social Live Experiences and Sharing Economy.

In each of these reports, we start by describing why they are important, how they work, and how brands might benefit from them; we then examine web platforms and brand programs that point to the future (that is already here); then finish by identifying some of the most important features of that future, with our recommendations on how to benefit from them.


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