In a recent Harvard Business Review blog post, David Armano discussed “The Anatomy of a Movement” and shared some insight on how to create a “movement” for your organization. The post resulted in a pretty active dialogue around how movements have been used for both good and bad purposes over time and, in the wrong hands, how movements can be detrimental to the greater community.
A sign of a good post is when it leaves you wanting more and thinking about the macro implications of human action. Like anyone, I can certainly read a post like David’s and support both those who question the growing power of the masses via digital media as a negative and those who feel that the opportunity to be heard is an overwhelming positive. After all, it’s important to question everything and consider the opinions of others.
While participating in the conversation, I was reminded of Comedian Robert Wuhl’s “Assume the Position” which focuses on History as Pop Culture. If you haven’t seen it yet, it is available on HBO and is worth the hour to watch. Here is a quick preview:
Considering that politics prompted Armano’s “Movement” post, it seems only fitting to look at what Whul shares in the video to see that movements have been and will continue to be a monumental influence on our society. That’s obvious. However, Whul’s primary point is that society has always been influenced by the story. A movement is always created around a story. Popularity is built as a result of the masses willingness to accept the story. Whether the information is true or not, it’s the story that creates interest.
Once the story is out there, it’s our innate behavior to want to know the story. By nature, we all become storytellers. Whul talks about using the media to “get out the word” and in the 1800′s the method was through books and legends. He provides great examples of how early story tellers chose the right protagonist and carefully crafted the message to inspire, entertain and encourage the public to share. These core behaviors still exist today.
The desire to know and the desire to share, both good and bad, is not going away. While some feel that Marketers and Communications professionals have an unfair advantage creating “movements” the rise of social media has shown that the opportunity for everyone is increasing. Sure, Marketers and Communications professionals have experience and are adept at finding trends and understanding what story the public wants to hear, but the opportunity exists for anyone. The biggest challenge for Marketers and Communications professionals has been how to react to the growing influence of the public.
Before, the story was delivered and shared to existing relationships where a belief system was already established. Now, that belief system has expanded. I don’t need to know you personally to share the story. I still need to believe that its credible, but I want to hear it and the rate at which we are telling stories is immeasurably greater today than it was only 10 years ago. We all want to hear the story and it’s our individual perception that determines what we do with that story.
So next time someone asks you, “Have you heard about ________?“ Remember what your answer was. Probably something along the lines of “No. Tell me.”