Takeaways from “What Can Business Learn From Social Movements?”


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Event: Impact Speaker Series – What Can Business Learn From Social Movements?

Speakers: Douglas Atkin, Paula Goodman
Date: Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Last week, Douglas Atkin (Global Head of Community at Airbnb) and Paula Goodman (Global Head of Impact Investing at Omidyar Networkgave us their insight on how a business might successfully reach out to and establish a loyal, united, active group of consumers by borrowing fundamental principles of social movements. Here are the some of the takeaways from the event:

  • Consider the commitment curve.
    Grassroots organizing is scaling intimacy locally in order to mobilize a large number of people. For effective grassroots organizing, start by making low barrier entry asks (such as signing a petition), and then make increasingly harder asks that require more commitment but lead to bigger change and yield greater rewards. Each ask should be a step toward achieving an ideal vision of how the world should be, even if it seems out of reach.
  • Identify with people, not customers.
    People find a sense of belonging and personal satisfaction in participating in communities with which they share the same values. Tap into the unique identity that people want to be associated with.
  • Be authentic.
    Many businesses that borrow the techniques of mass mobilization from social movements are not genuine; their actions are often dressed-up marketing campaigns, especially on social media. Consumers and community members see through the false authenticity, which may result in public embarrassment. In order to create passion, the needs of the members must truly overlap with the needs of the business.

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Watch the full presentation.

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