Social media

Five years ago Derek Sivers explained how to start a movement in the hugely popular TED talk “First Follower: Leadership Lessons from a Dancing Guy.” Key takeaways include: If you want to start a movement, have the guts to stand out. Make your actions fun and easy to follow. Show everyone what you are doing

To illustrate these points Derek Sivers uses a video. It shows a single man who begins to dance while others ignore him and remain seated. Then another man decides to join. Together the dancers start to attract attention. Before too long a third man decides to participate. Momentum quickly builds. In a matter of seconds dozens of people join – a movement is created.

To date the video has over 5 million views on the TED Talk website, but as fun and engaging as it is, it does not address the question of longevity – how do you go from first follower to committed community? How do you continue to engage your first followers?

Some of the most memorable marketing campaigns as of lately point us in a clear direction – purpose, and social relevance.

Proctor and Gamble’s “Like a Girl” flipped gender stereotypes on their head and redefined the phrase "like a girl"— which had long been used as an insult. Before watching the campaign video content, only 19 percent of young women had a positive reaction to the phrase "like a girl," according to the company’s research. After viewing it, that number rose to 76 percent.

Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution Day was created to help fight child obesity, drawing attention to where food comes from and what it contains. The movement started in 2010, and has steadily grown over the years. Last year 200 schools made healthy (and of course – delicious) sandwiches in more than 100 different countries to raise awareness of the issue. To date over a 1 million people have signed a petition to make practical food education a compulsory part of every school curriculum.

But is purpose and social good enough? Perhaps the biggest hurdle in building a long lasting relationship with your followers is convincing them that they will be involved in making a difference, both in the short- and long-term.

If you have the ambitious goal of starting a movement, keep in mind that you will need to put thought into creating an environment that cultivates first followers. Make it easy for influencers to follow you with clear directions and communication! Use creative tactics and content to excite them! Create space online where you can interact! Add these elements and you might just transform your dance party to an epic rave.

By Helena Zarchan, PR consultant, Burson-Marsteller, @ninazarchan