The Internet has always been an outlet for raising a rally cry around a social issue – and the sheer power of a strong social movement has been brought to life through recent grassroots efforts such as Kony 2012 and the petition to prosecute the killer of Trayvon Martin.
But it doesn’t take an international injustice to gain support and raise awareness online. Just ask Hannah Brencher, a former intern at The Pita Group, who has created a global movement for … writing love letters. Yes, love letters.
The World Needs More Love Letters grew out of Hannah’s personal need to escape everyday loneliness and connect with others – strangers passing on a train – who seemed like they could also use a boost of happiness. In
October 2010, she began writing anonymous love letters and leaving them in public places. And her passion caught hold.
The World Needs More Love Letters has since blossomed into a movement with a team of writers and contributors from all over the globe. They have written, left and mailed more than 3,000 letters and have sent letter bundles to specific people in need. The love letters have traveled to more than 40 states and several other countries including Italy, Brazil, Japan and the UK. And Hannah has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Daily Candy, on Oprah’s blog and more.
We can learn a lot about creating a grassroots movement from Hannah’s labor of love. Here are four tips to keep in mind when turning your own passion into a social phenomenon:
Keep the story simple.
Yes, “ending world hunger” is a noble task. But it’s also incredibly daunting. Instead of tackling a massive issue head on, personalize it to fit your passion. Carve out a niche in which you can stake a claim and make a tangible difference.
While Hannah has not cured cancer or adolescent depression, she has sent bundles of encouragement to a volleyball team who lost a teammate to suicide and a young woman named Briana struggling to pay her rent. These flickers of encouragement have shown people that they are not alone in their suffering, giving them strength and courage to move forward.
Be passionate and authentic.
If you don’t genuinely believe in the cause, no one will. A movement sparked for publicity or brand growth will be transparent to your audiences. Make sure your intentions are clear when crafting your story and your communications approach, and put your words into action before asking others to commit. If you or your company or organization is benefiting in some way from the movement (e.g. a percentage of donations go to you), be upfront about it.
Hannah single-handedly wrote 400 love letters before launching MoreLoveLetters.com a year later. The website and social movement were an offshoot of her personal passion, which gave her mission more credibility.
Give your supporters a voice.
Once you build the foundation, let others adopt your story and spread the word. Allow supporters to share their personal thoughts and opinions on your blog or social platforms, and encourage them to share your content with their own circles. Keep them updated as your movement evolves and you experience results.
While handwritten notes are at the core of The World Needs More Love Letters, social media is driving the cause. Along with a dedicated website with a blog, it has a presence on Facebook and Twitter. Love letter writers also have their own Twitter handles to interact with supporters.
Make it easy to participate.
Cause marketing always contends with barriers to engagement. The interested individual must be compelled to get involved and then take some sort of action, whether it be donating money, taking part in an event or signing a petition. Simplify participation by providing easy ways for supporters to show their engagement.
On MoreLoveLetters.com, Hannah outlines a variety of ways people can get involved, ranging from joining the subscriber list to simply writing a love letter and dropping it in a local coffee shop. Supporters can adopt a love letter bundle project as a team, or they can request a love letter for themselves or someone they know.
By committing to a cause and developing a sound strategy to bring that cause online, you can create more than a movement … you can create change.
We want to hear your social movement story! Contact us to share your best strategies, tips and tactics – or leave a comment below.
- Your brand will grow if you share the news (thepitagroup.com)
- Getting back to “the big idea.” (thepitagroup.com)