The desire to make a positive change is stronger than it has ever been. The speed at which communities form online behind causes or movements that combat negative forces is remarkable. This will likely accelerate as societal structures can’t address the demands of citizens. Empowerment has clearly come of age through technology. As prosperity for the many dips, this empowerment will grow push violently or at least powerfully back at the establishment. I need not mention the political movements of the past 2 years that exemplify this. Yet it is not only these big, media consuming movements, that reflect the world of empowerment. There are mountains of smaller, under the radar movements that galvanise people and creativity the world over.
Many everyday working individuals break from professional paradigms because their urge to address a vacuum in a part of society is so intense. Neil Pasricha’s movement to uncover everyday awesome things made a TED sensation and his community is still going strong (see here). Ivan Cash is another such person who gave up a very good job at a top Advertising Firm to pursue an urge to bring back the written letter. He started “Snail Mail My Email” which was a socially-driven platform where people could send a desired “letter” by email and the SMME community would turn that email into a hand-written letter and send it to the recipient. Ivan initially did this because he felt that email had dulled the emotional power of getting a hand-written letter. His experiment was intended for friends and family and mushroomed into a global community where “writer contributors” from all over the world came together. Clearly Ivan tapped into a bigger universal yearning for the human touch in correspondence. His little action on bringing back a positive change to an “evil” in society quickly created a massive community. Check out the website here – http://snailmailmyemail.org/ Also have a look at the first part of the video below where he shares his story.
Brands not only have an opportunity, but and obligation to champion movements of positive change. Over the past few weeks I’ve written a few articles about this (see here and here). However, I have not shared examples of Brands that actually empower their communities to bring about this change. Dove did this brilliantly with the “Ad Makeover”. This program launched about a year ago where Dove handed over its online media spend to its consumers who could place personally selected banner ads on Facebook. Using a Dove App, consumers sent positive ads about beauty versus ones that lean into women’s insecurities. The response was amazing. More importantly, Dove didn’t simply champion its movement, it handed it over to its consumers and gave them a social media tool to fuel it. Have a look at the video.