How to start a movement

In the world of web, you spend a lot of time thinking about things like generating traffic, community building, and what it is the heck makes something go viral.

Watch this TED presentation. In under 3 minutes you’ll learn how to start a movement.

So how do you start a movement? You start with a leader. A leader without followers in our culture is just a nutcase, crazy or a wierdo. But with vision, persistence and belief, a leader might inspire his first followers.

The leader’s first followers are actually the key to starting the movement. It’s overlooked, but the first followers are actually leaders themselves. If they are embraced and treated as equals, they will stick around. Subsequent followers are actually following the first followers and not the leader.

With more and more followers, it gets less risky for others to follow. With enough momentum, soon the risk becomes in not following because you run the risk of being left out.

Then you have a movement.

What this talk leaves out is that any good movement will spawn an anti-movement. Not everyone will join your movement; some out of refusal to follow the herd mentality, some out of a stubborn need to demonstrate individuality. The most outspoken become leaders in their own right. Unmoved by your movement, they draw their own followers, and an anti-movement is born.

Some of the more bewildering movements IMHO:

Ed Hardy
Justin Beiber (Just about any boy band for that matter)
World of Warcraft
Organized Religion