HOW TO: Unleash the ‘Crowd’ to Create Change

Crowd close-upA Communications 301 rule of thumb is “information alone doesn’t change behavior.” You might have brilliant left-brained arguments about why people should do something, but if you don’t touch them emotionally, they won’t be swayed.

O.K., maybe they’ll give you a thumbs up, but they won’t act.

Raising awareness is only effective in changing behavior when you have the time and resources to reach the saturation point of “everybody knows that everybody knows that everybody knows.”

Almost always you do not.

To inspire action, you need to unite an idea with an emotion.  Then you need to make sure people have the necessary tools and community support to carry out your vision.

Success involves the following six principles:

  • Personal: People have to have a reason to care about your cause. You need to explain what the cost of failing to act will be on them as individuals and on society as a whole. Make sure to highlight real people and real stories.
  • Direct. You have to explain how people can help, tell them what you want them to do and when, and give them the tools they need to do what’s needed easily.
  • Transparent. If you share enough information about your cause—that’s personal and direct (see above) and transparent—a community can develop around it. Not only will this community give your supporters a sense of solidarity and connectedness, it can achieve something great that they couldn’t achieve through individual effort.
  • Hubbed. To grow your community and spur productive collaboration, you need to cultivate and connect social precincts, enthusiastic, networked, and knowledgeable people who can ignite passion for your cause. Only 3 to 5 percent of your community, these leaders are the hubs connecting and inspiring individuals and settings direction for the collaborative effort.
  • Independent. Independence means individuals can have the freedom to choose the task that suits their ability, time, or interest—no matter where they are or whoever else may be posting content at that time. No coordination or pre-existing relationship is required.
  • Close-Knit. Remember it’s all about connecting people to your cause, building relationships, and sharing and improving ideas. Whatever you do, don’t fall into the trap of focusing on technology and forgetting about humanity. The technology you use doesn’t matter as long as it allows your community to create a group identify, a culture of sharing and trust, and appropriate cultural norms.

What do you think about my post above? What do you think about unleashing crowds to create change? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

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About Monica

Monica specializes in strategic communications, web and new media, and print materials with an international or multi-cultural context. She has worked on national public outreach campaigns targeting multi-cultural audiences and has conceptualized, written, and/or designed multiple websites. Monica also has written, edited, and/or designed high-profile newsletters, brochures, and reports, including some prepared in collaboration with the White House. She holds a bachelor’s in journalism and a master of international service with a focus on international communication. Monica is based in Washington, D.C.