Welcome to the final phase of Build Blocks for the New-Era Business. Up to this point, we have shared tools to help you PLAN out your venture, proposed a new process to TEST the demand for your venture, and now we are going to take a look at how to SPREAD an idea through the market.
In this experimental process we call the Building Blocks for the New-Era Business, we have been looking to fundamentally redesign the way a business is created by taking advantage of the new tools emerging in the global ecosystem. We can collaborate and share basic tools to PLAN out a business, use crowdfunding platforms to TEST demand for a new business and we can use the pipelines to SPREAD the message
When we say pipelines, we are not talking about Keystone XL or Enbridge here. We are talking about the pipelines of communication, the ones that are shifting the entire media landscape and changing the way we source information. If you want to take an idea to the market, these are the pipelines that you need to know and build your communication strategy around.
Where do we look to study the best way to use the Social Media pipelines?
The social movements.
Worldwide, from Chile to Spain, Montreal to Mexico, people have taken to the streets en masse as part of the global social ( r)evolution. Whatever way you slice it, regardless of your creed or political beliefs, the social movements have become symbolic of a huge societal shift – the power shift from the few to the many.
Despite their differences, all of these movements including, Occupy, #15M, the Arab Spring, #yosoy123, etc., have one thing in common – they started with an idea amongst a few people and SPREAD to the masses. In the same way an idea for a new venture starts in the head of one person and can be pollinated through the masses.
So how do these social movements do it?
Contrary to popular belief, no social movement starts on Facebook or Twitter. The precursor is engagement, discussion and debate amongst a small group of people. That group of people then begin to educate a larger group of people, the after the idea gains traction the social-media factor comes in to play. It’s true that certain people may meet on a Facebook group or through a blog initially, but no movement starts as a Tweet or Facebook post. It requires deep dialogue, some extended validation and then a social strategy. That’s why we believe that there is a lot from the social movements that can be applied to the creation of a new business.
The objectives of the SPREAD phase are the following:
- Education – explain about the problem, why the need for a solution exists and how your solution works
- Engagement – engage with people in your potential target audience and discuss your product/service with them directly
- Influence – get the people who shape perceptions to understand why your product or service is better
- Diffusion – give people the tools and content to proliferate your message for you
The number of ways you can actually achieve this are infinite. If you have followed any of the social movements, you will have seen a number of creative tactics employed to get the messages heard. The tools that they use, however, are all pretty generic. Here are how they breakdown:
- Blog – a blog will help you educate people and give you a place to discuss any aspects related to your venture in depth
activist example: Occupy Wall Street was started by an Adbusters blog (see post here)
- YouTube (or Vimeo) – video gives your entire venture a personal feel and will help you build trust with your audience. To influence people and give power to an idea, they need to be able to see who you are and feel an authentic vibe
activist example: #yosoy132 blew up in Mexico thanks to their YouTube responses to media spin (read about the story of how the movement started)
- Twitter – Twitter is big because of it gives you the ability to tap into trends and make new connections. The hashtag (# symbol) has become a cultural icon, and for good reason. Hashtags let people connect into streams of consciousness related to a specific topic, which is why a strategically crafted campaign needs to look at the possibilities enabled by Twitter. It can help you engage your audience, influence key players and scale diffusion
activist example: the #15M movement in Spain was able to coordinate and proliferate their marches all using clever hashtags (see blog post Taking your Message to Market – Lessons from #15M)
- Facebook and Google+ – despite the fact that we are bearish on Facebook, and starting to really warm up to Google+, both need to be considered as key platforms in the social media pipelines. While engagement on Facebook is falling off significantly, the Like button and Brand pages can still help diffuse ideas and facilitate discussion. The Google+ pages for business are much cleaner and have added features to take audience engagement to a new level (ie. Hangouts), but the network is not there yet
activist example: the Arab Spring in Egypt really took off after Wael Ghonim posted some images of police brutality on Facebook
- Guerilla campaigns – guerilla simply means bottom-up, spontaneous formations that happen in the streets. You see ‘guerilla marketing campaigns’ when someone hands you a free sample of Starburst in the street, but those lack the tact and creativity that the social movements employ. Guerilla campaigns are all about face-to-face engagement and audience participation
activist example: 350.org and other Climate Change organizations staged a ‘Connect the Dots’ event, one of which we saw at the St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, to show the link between extreme weather and climate change
We are not the type of people to write a ‘5 steps to achieve …’ blog post because there isn’t a simple five-step process to just move your idea into a market. To really SPREAD an idea you need to have a grasp on the fundamentals and take advantage of the crowds to help you gain traction. If it’s a good one, something that is both timely and valuable to a broad audience, social media is the way to get it out there. After going through the PLAN and TEST phases, SPREAD helps you build momentum behind your venture.
If you are looking for help to put together a social media-driven strategy, make sure you separate the wheat from the chaff. Getting someone to get you a few Likes on Facebook or few hundred Followers on Twitter will not move the dial without the core components of a campaign to back it up. Find the people who both understand the dynamics of your market and know how to coordinate campaigns across the channels. We are big on the blog, video and face-to-face as a way to drive deeper engagement initially, and then start looking to the bigger channels after.Tweet