Occupy Wall Street is starting to occupy the minds of journalists, politicians, and pundits, alike.
The thousands participating in this grassroots movement of John and Jane Does are camping out on Wall Street and in the surrounding area to protest the allegedly corrupt government and financial practices that left them without jobs, healthcare, and savings.
CNN defines Occupy Wall Street as “America's first true Internet-era movement, which -- unlike civil rights protests, labor marches, or even the Obama campaign -- does not take its cue from a charismatic leader, express itself in bumper-sticker-length goals and understand itself as having a particular endpoint.”
And Errol Louis, political anchor for NY1 News and co-author of “Deadline Artists,” said while speaking with Keith Olbermann that this movement “has hit New York in the head like a two-by-four. If you didn’t understand what was going on here before, the 700 arrests are clue No. 1 . . . This is big; this is real; this is unusual.”
So how did this movement get so big and (even if you’re not thrilled with their message) what can we learn from its rapid growth?
Ways to get our ideas heard, that’s what!
- Pick a passion point you believe in. First, if you decide to protest the use of sheep’s wool in sweaters because you don’t like itchy fabric, your “movement” is doomed, no matter how enthusiastic you are.
Second, if you decide to protest just for the hell of it, you won’t have the shiny enthusiasm that draws people like moths. The lesson? If something important is going down and you sincerely (and vehemently!) think it should be done differently, do something about it.
- Take a stand. Wishy-washy people aren’t super desirable as authorities. Why? Because they aren’t authorities - they’re people-pleasers. Being liked is all well and good, but when you’re trying to nurture an audience, you need to give them concrete ideas and opinions to flock to.
Waffling just confuses people who might otherwise be inclined to listen to you. So while taking a side will inevitably offend or irritate SOMEONE, keep in mind that you’re not running for prom queen. As Winston Churchill supposedly said, “You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
- Find an advocate. One of the slogans on Occupy Wall Street signs says “we’re the 99% - we can afford a lobbyist,” but they sure have found people more powerful than them to advocate for their ideas and feelings (see the supportive Keith Olbermann video above).
At work or at play, this means finding someone with more influence who recognizes what you have to offer and who will go to bat for you when stuff hits the fan and help the right people hear your ideas.
- Gather like-minded individuals. Yes, one voice can theoretically make an impact. But several thousand (or more!) voices make a damn crater. Whether you’re blogging, protesting, pitching ideas at work, or staging a crazy government coup, the more people you can convert or attract, the larger your audience will become.
Twitter teaches social media marketers this in a very real way - when you gain followers (ostensibly by winning them over) your captive audience grows, but you are able to cast a wider net to a greater network of people thanks to that wonderful feature, the retweet.