Lessons the Campaigns Can Learn
from "Occupy Wall Street"
The "Occupy Wall Street" protests rapidly expanded into a movement, spurring protests about social and economic inequality around the world. Here as with many of the most successful movements of the modern age, digital media played a critical role in engaging individuals in many different ways. As we approach the 2012 presidential elections, the candidates can learn some key tactics to create a movement of their own.
By Nina Baliga, Account Supervisor, 2011
The "Occupy Wall Street" protests origins didn't begin in a bar, a shop or any kind of brick-and-mortar space. They began with a single blog post.1
The post by "Culture Jammers HQ," posted on Adbusters
, called for 20,000 people to set up a peaceful protest in lower Manhattan and bring attention to the current economic situation with a call for "Democracy not Corporatocracy."2
The Twitter hashtag #occupywallstreet was also created. It wasn't long before word spread via Twitter, and protestors uploaded their videos on YouTube. In less than a month from the original demonstration, rallies were held in more than 900 cities around the world, including in Europe, Africa and Asia.3
Social media and digital technology played a key role in bringing people together. Individuals in Australia inspired by "Occupy Wall Street" began a Facebook group to organize "Occupy Melbourne" protests in City Square. Celebrities leveraged their influence to spread the message via Twitter and YouTube. Organizers used Skype and various chat services to coordinate events and tackle logistical issues. Individuals who couldn't participate directly in the protests were able to donate money via mobile payment site WePay or provide other services such as designing protest signs or infographics via OccupyDesign. Most importantly, a grassroots movement took shape via individuals connecting through numerous digital channels.
Implications and Action Items:
As we enter the 2012 campaign season, the candidates and their campaign managers should keep a close eye on how a movement began from just an idea on a blog.
1 NPR.com, "Occupy Wall Street: From a Blog Post to a Movement" October 20, 2011.
2 Adbusters.org, "#Occupy Wall Street" July 13, 2011
3 WashingtonPost.com, "Occupy Wall Street Protests Go Global" October 15, 2011.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/edenpictures. Used with permission from Creative Commons.
- Power of the hashtag. Define your hashtags and empower your people. Hashtags provide a way to define your message and own the idea. So, broadcast them. Use them everywhere, including buttons, posters, e-mail signatures, etc. Through the hashtag, you can aggregate the conversation. However, be ready to lose control of it.
- Listen in new ways. You may already know what the conversation is through social media, but now you can see where the conversations are happening. People are now geotagging their tweets, Facebook posts and Flickr images. You can use this to see where your message is catching on, and where it is not. Deploy resources to strategically get your message out to specific cities or states.
- Go mobile. Use all the mobile tools that are available to you. Understand that many of the people you're looking to engage are doing so via their phones, and they want to know that you are too. For example, Instagram can give the campaign a professional yet human touch. Make sure that you're incorporating a strategy that is mobile accessible and mobile optimized to allow people to feel they are part of the movement.