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Cultivation of a Grassroots Campaign: Where the Green Grass Grows in Social Media

Grassroots campaigns tend to be truly shoestring budgets. Marketers leading the social media think the content for the campaign will be so compelling that consumers will automatically engage.The Matrix of Emotional Connection with likelihood of Echo by those who engage Looking at the Matrix of Emotional Connection, one who engages must feel among the emotions from interest to devotion on the positive range or awareness to malice on the negative range. The intensity of the emotion will drive whether or not the one who engages will echo or pass along that content to others.

UCLA girl, who’s racist words sparked malice among all who viewed it, pushed her content into the uncontrolled viral territory, as did elephant-killer Bob Parsons — although his company treated the virus (to be discussed in another entry).

For the most part, corporate campaigns will likely not reach the emotional intensity needed to go viral — that is, out of control and purposely infectious or bad for a brand. Generally, these efforts hopefully rise to curiosity or oddity — high enough on the scale for the consumer to pay attention and only one step from an emotional intensity to echo or influence others.

At interest or awareness, the consumer needs to be compelled two steps before becoming engaged enough to pass the word onto others and is within one step of emotions for the Exile Effect — boredom or indifference.

Gaging Where Your Campaign Engages

To effectively activate a network of influencers on any topic, one must know who those people are. Identifying and then effectively activating those networks isn’t like flipping on a light bulb. Influential networks respect those from within and distrust those from outside (again, a conversation for another day).  Generally, since most lack a network ready to go, the process begins with penetrating the current conversations and inviting people to become engaged to spread the word.

This is called seeding. Reaching out at the beginning requires research and up to a few weeks of ramp. Like the initial stages of seeding any ground, it takes time and patience. Some issues to consider in the seeding process:

  • Is this a regional or national or is it international?
  • Where will most content be hosted and how will those who engage and the influencers get information on an on-going basis?
  • What is the endurance of the campaign and the ultimate payoff?
  • How will success be measured?

As the seeding is spread, it will require a multitude of methods and messages based on how the campaign is executed and expected to be measured. To cultivate it correctly, add the right amount of top soil, to water it and fertilize it.

In other words, it takes work.

Shoestring budgets better include the investment to allow adequate funds to support cultivation. Else, it will simply not grow. For example, a ramp up period is required to allow for a successful grassroots campaign. Anyone with a green thumb knows distributing seed will not guarantee sprouts will appear. The cultivation that follows must be perfect with the right temperature, rainfall, sunshine and care. Sure, if conditions are just right, roots might find their way into the ground and spring forth. But for those roots to really be strong and adjacent plants to sprout, you need to add your own artificial care to supplement what’s in the wild.

Plus, with the artificial help, trimming back, monitoring and attention assures that no other weeds take root. Your grass is pure and not something unexpected.

Hiring Lawn Maintenance

An effective international or even English-language campaign needs at least three personnel in three locations:

  • European-based (U.K.)
  • North American-based (U.S. or Canada)
  • Pacific-based (Japan or Australia)

This allows maximum time coverage on the clock because, in case no one noticed, the Internet doesn’t sleep. In the best of all possible scenarios, each continent-based person includes a back-up. In the case of the U.S. or Canadian person, having someone on the East and West coasts would be preferred.

In order for all to work best together, the online personality voice must be essentially the same. Giving that a personality is needed. The best idea should give your online persona a single-page character study, much like a fiction writer would give.

Remember that conversations online are two-way, meaning your persona will speak back and forth. This does not allow for a managing organization to approve every post. Any corporation insisting on such should simply not engage in social media and abort such an effort (and I’m going to write about this soon as well).

Keep in mind that any comments from the persona can be deleted or clarified.

The goal is to engage the influencers and every one else who would find an emotional connection to the campaign. Just linking into the network of those who will engage takes time, especially since the effort will largely be commercial in nature. That causes distrust.

Good lawns take time. A long time. We’re talking over a period of years, not just a few months. Sure, you can bring in sod and hope it takes suddenly.

A shoestring won’t work.

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