Saturday, March 27, 2010

making a movement


If there's one or two things I've learned from mucking about with brand participation ideas they are as follows.

Whatever it is we want people to do it neads to be as easy as possible to participate and the quicker we can make it appear to onlookers that it's a good idea they need to get involved with, the better.

This doesn't mean it has to be a familiar idea.
In fact the more unfamiliar or innovative the idea is then the initial hipsters and 'early adopters', if you like, are more likely to have their interest piqued.

At that point it then becomes 'safe', or 'social proof' emerges, then the slightly more cautious are able to dip their toes in.

This is crucial because a participation idea needs to be 'in public'. The 'outsiders' don't see just the leaders, they mostly see the the followers, new recruits follow the followers, kind of thing, not just the the leaders.

Pondering this I recall a story from Bernie Rhodes (I think it was him).

Rhodes managed The Clash back in the day and was in cahoots with Malcolm Mclaren (Sex Pistols) and Jake Riviera (the unsung 3rd man of the original emergent UK punk scene, and erstwhile manager of The Damned).

Between the three of them they realised that to create a movement that initial 'social proof' needed to be apparent.

One band could not do it on their own, but 3 bands...

Do the arithmetic.

3 bands (Pistols, Clash, Damned) each with four members.
Say each band member has five 'friends', thats 60 people minimum.

So a triple header gig in a small strip joint in Soho has an instant crowd of 60 or so likeminded bods, to any waif or stray thats wandered in off the street it immediately looks like 'something' is happening.

As more people decide to join in it's no longer a risk, if they 'get it' no reason not to join in now, and the codes, language, style is all there for them.
It's very easy to participate.

We are a we-species after all.

And there's your movement.

Easy in principle but the hard part is having the guts and purpose to innovate in the first place, because if it's not interesting and worth the effort to join in, there will be no takers.

Malcolm, Bernie and Jake, my mentors ;)

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