As with most things in our modern world, businesses evolve alongside human behavior. Sometimes, it’s the businesses themselves that innovate and cause a change in how we behave, like Apple’s creation of the iPhone. Other times, it is the culture that drives businesses to improve.
Regardless, businesses exist to capitalize on opportunity, and are set up fundamentally to do just that.
In the case of social media, human behavior came first and then companies followed, foaming at the mouth to capitalize on strong communities of inter-connected individuals who might be, or become, paying customers. Even when brands play the role of media company, creating content with high entertainment value, the goal is always to “go viral” and gain exposure for the brand. After all, every business has a bottom line to consider.
The true power in social media, however, is in mobilizing communities (both local and global) to create a movement. At the recent FC Labs workshop, the topic of how brands could cultivate tribes was one that we touched upon repeatedly throughout the day, the main takeaway that brands need to stand for something greater than their image or product line; they need to stand for an idea that resonates.
Yet, seldom is social media used within the fashion and luxury industry to do this, even when we consider the philanthropic work each brand is already doing.
Enter KONY 2012, where one filmmaker created a video campaign designed to inform, emote, provoke and inspire change against Uganda’s leader of the Lords Resistance Army, Joseph Kony for the organization Invisible Children. Amongst the many war crimes Kony has committed, the most repelling are his crimes against children. For years, he has been abducting boys and girls, turning them into soldiers for his cause, creating insurmountable harm in the process.
While this issue is not a new one, it has recently experienced a surge in media coverage, and captured the attention of an entirely new demographic of youth around the world. And how did this happen? Through a compelling video, celebrity endorsements and the astonishing power of social media.
In just days after the film’s release, the video had over 64 million views, averaging 1 million per hour. The film’s director, Jason Russell, reported that the engagement didn’t stop at views. Rather, individuals went on to demand an answer to the question, “What can we do now?” Action kits were ordered and distributed, and a movement was born.
A strong advocate of cause-based marketing, Clare Munn, founder of The Communication Group, (and past FashionForward speaker) writes on her blog, “Any brand that uses Social Media is tapping into that wellspring of promotion, but this is only half of the capability of Web 2.0/4.0 The other comes from collaboration, such as with cross-promoted cause marketing….brands need to remember that we, as a people, aren’t stupid. We can sniff out insincere campaigning and green washing.”
Just in the way KONY 2012 took an issue beyond reporting and generated a movement, take your brand beyond marketing an image and mobilize your fans and followers around an idea your brand can stand for. It may be the most powerful opportunity to cultivate a brand tribe that exists.
Photo Credits: Duncan Smith