Building Movements

Before I write this, I would make a disclaimer. I am not writing as an expert on building movements. I have dabbled in building movements. So I have some experience. But I cannot say I am able to do this better than any other person. I am instead, a student.

One thing I have come to believe, however, is that building movements is a key skill these days that can lead to business success. We used to call this marketing, and we used to confuse marketing with advertising. But these days, building a brand is more about generating passion among a loyal following than just broadcasting a slogan. So how does this work?

I like Digital Tonto’s approach to the challenge. He lists several factors that go into building a movement around an idea (or brand). I will summarize here

  • earn your mission (authenticity)
  • create hackable platforms (interactivity)
  • balance cohesion and diversity (persuasion)
  • create genomes of belief (adaption)
  • sustain passion at scale (agenda building)

In parenthesis I have written the underlying value that I think is at work. Movements grow out of real problem solving (not just hype).

That means authenticity is a starting point to make people get involved in what you want them to do. When authenticity is questioned, things become less spontaneous. But starting the movement must lead to empowerment not domination. So broadcasting a message won’t get people to live that message. In addition,living the message has to attract new and different types of followers. The harder it is to persuade people to join in, the less successful your movement will be. Which, of course, means that the message has to be adaptable to different settings and over time.

This is rather complex, but it does create a learning path of sorts:

  • learn from doing
  • translate doing into sharing
  • sharing has to add value
  • that value has to have broad and long term use

Notice how we have worked from the micro (and individual) level of activity to the macro  (historical) level of thinking. Doing this aint easy.

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