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Dude, Where's My Crowd? Connecting En Masse

Updated: Jul 14, 2023

The second important ingredient with making use of New Power, according to the book on the topic I'm reading, is to build a crowd. (The first is to have an idea to share.) There are a number of ways to do so but the key points were low barriers to entry (e.g. reading and sharing an Instagram post) and having a pathway all the way to shaping the movement.

All aboard the brain train
Get people on board after starting an idea. Generated by Canva Text to Image

Jeremy Heimans, the main author of New Power (also authored by Henry Timms), co-founded an Australian organisation called GetUp with the purpose of shaping Australian politics. Naturally, it uses the methods described in his book. As such, it has been hugely successful, bringing greater attention and action on things like climate change, social justice and refugee policy, arguably even being the deciding force behind Federal Labor's election win in 2007. I have also financially supported GetUp over the years as their values aligned with mine. That he has written a book on the techniques he used to make GetUp so successful is profoundly useful to say the least.

The steps to building a crowd are:

  1. Identify your target audience - the people most likely to respond and who are also very socially connected - the Connected Connectors

  2. Build a new power brand, ideally with grassroots connotations (e.g. GetUp implies self motivation, whereas something like Move sounds like a fitness class even though it could be intended to refer to something similar)

  3. Make it as easy as possible for people to start participating - e.g. sign and share an online petition or like and share an Instagram reel

  4. Ensure people have the opportunity to move up the participation scale

  5. Harness the three storms

Man walking up steps to victory
Step up and build your crowd. By Canva Text to Image

The Participation Scale

What differentiates simply using social media from using New Power as advanced by Heimans & Timms is the opportunity for people to participate - all the way to the top. The participation scale is:

  1. Sharing - Sharing other people's content or ideas

  2. Affiliating - Endorsing or joining a New Power community

  3. Adapting - Remixing other people's content or ideas

  4. Funding - Affiliating with money within a New Power community

  5. Producing - Creating or delivering content or assets within a New Power community

  6. Shaping - Shaping or protecting the norms of a New Power community

The key difference with New Power from Old Power is you can go all the way to Shaping and not have any formal authority.

People climbing a ladder
Make it easy for people to climb up the participation scale. Generated by Canva Text to Image

The Three Storms

The three 'storms' referred to here are opportunities to build your crowd. These are:

  • Storm creating - actually creating a situation that spurs collective action. The example given in New Power was a movement to physically obstruct a demolition - a demolition of a school in Rio for a carpark

  • Storm chasing - Sometimes there is an opportunity where you can appeal to people affected by a conflict or upheaval. The example given in New Power was Reddit appealing to disgruntled users of its now-defunct competitor Digg

  • Storm embracing - in some cases the storm comes to you! Rather than hiding from it, embrace it and use it to your advantage. Like when GetUp was formed and both the government and mainstream media attacked. Or when a Girl Scouts group deliberately rejected a large donation explicitly excluding transgender women

The key to using these 'storms' to your advantage is speedy response, days or even minutes within the event occurring.

Storm swirl woman empowerment
The savvy New Power harnesser can make use of a storm to build a crowd. Generated by Canva Text to Image

Have a go at building your New Power crowd - if you are up for a challenge!

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Steven Trpenov
Steven Trpenov
May 12, 2023

Interesting read! Thank you for sharing the insights in the book :)

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