How to Start a Movement in 7 Easy Steps

Posted on August 28th 2008

“You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world” - The Beatles

In this day, people really have a lot of power. The Internet has been the great equalizer with social movements and grassroots campaigns gathering lightning speed in just a few clicks. Social networks and utilizing social media marketing can help perpetuate whatever movement you are trying to create. Not all movements create great social change, some are just for fun and entertainment. (For example, “talk like a pirate day.“) Starting a movement can be a great way to create buzz and attention to what you are doing.

So… How do you start a movement?

Step 1: Know Your Movement

Know who you want to take action and what action you want them to take. “Hey Everyone! Let's do something!” is not going to get anyone moving. “Hey Moms! Get up and get walking on a weekly ‘mom walk'!” Now I obviously know you don't want me in that movement, but I know lots of moms who would be interested and will gladly pass information on!

Step 2: Get Educated

What would be the concerns about people starting the movement? Are there legalities you need to be aware of? What questions might a media mogul ask when interviewing you about the movement? The historical evolution of the movement, scientific evidence, tid bits of “gee-whiz” trivia are a few things you might want to have in your utility belt. “Research has shown that petting a puppy at least 3 times a week improves positivity in people by 50%*” sounds better than “I was petting my dog and just thought, it would be cool if other people could pet dogs too!” (*not actual data, I made that stuff up. But please use actual data as people will call you out on it and you will look like a fool :) )

Step 3: Make it popular

Want to know what's popular… go to any newspaper or news website and see what is on the front page. Do you visualize your movement following along the lines of those stories? Popular topics that get people moving:

  • Kids
  • Animals
  • World Peace
  • Celebrities in trouble
  • Diseases
  • The Bizarre/Funny
  • Politics
  • Sports/health/fitness

Step 4: Rally the troops

Now you need to let people know about your movement! E-mail those you know who will be interested, reach out to your social network, post on your blog, contact like-minded groups and organizations and let them know. Provide information about your movement, which you came up with in step 1. Sprinkle in some factual tid bits, which you researched in step 2. And if you are moving on a popular topic, like in step 3, there will be no reason the troops (at least some troops) won't rally behind you.

Step 5: Set up communication

Create a point of communication and encourage people to participate. This is easier than ever! If you don't have a website or blog for people to come to, you can set up a facebook group, yahoo group, ning.com community, and the list goes on and on and on. Just make it ease to participate and encourage people to contribute. No matter how smart you think you are, there will always be this one question to answer: How do we make this better? Let others take a stab and build upon your movement.

Step 6: Get Noticed

Once you have your troops together and communication set up, the movement is on its way. Reach out to the press, your political leaders, the world, and let them know that the movement has started. The Blog-sphere has become the first point of news and you might already find your movement is spinning just in reaching out in step 4. Don't get comfortable with that, keep the ball moving by letting influential people know that your movement is growing and that they will want to pay attention!

Step 7: Take it easy

Know that people are imperfect and will get discouraged. As the leader of this new movement, do not be too rigid in the requirements. Be understanding and provide encouragement, better yet, encourage others to encourage others (odd sentence, but didn't know how else to write it :) ).  You should be the point of motivation and provide the means for further support (step 5: set up communications).

It is one thing to sit behind your blog and make a few observations. Taking action! Getting people excited to actually do something! That takes it to a whole new level. Being at the forefront of the movement will bring exposure and recognition with the possibility of a viral landslide. One thing to always keep in mind is, while you might position yourself as the poster child of the movement, it is not about you, it is about what is happening.

What movements will you start?

NathanMcGee

Nathan McGee

Nathan McGee has been in online marketing for over 8 years, experimenting and utilizing all forms of media to improve and enhance the online business experience. As an avid student of human social behavior and all around great guy, Nathan found his true calling in Social Media Marketing. Combining his analytical and technical production experience with his formal artistic and creative training, Nathan has been able to approach social media from many different angles. Nathan blogs about social media marketing and speaks at events in order to inspire and motivate businesses, entreprenuers, freelancers, and creative people with ways to use this medium to bring them closer to their business goals.
See Full Profile >

Comments

Nice post, Nathan. Brains on Fire published a ChangeThis Manifesto earlier this month on the topic of "10 Lessons Learned Igniting Word of Mouth Movements." It might serve your readers as a great companion piece:

http://www.changethis.com/60.03.BrainsOnFire

Keep on fightin' the good fight!