Social movment rhetoric was one of my favorite things to study back in graduate school. With that in mind, this book was the perfect blend of both my old and new passions: Social movements and social media.
Uprising is a book by Scott Goodson, founder of the StrawberryFrog marketing and advertising ageny. Uprising concerns creating a movement for your brand. Specifically, it argues that you can move up your brand (and products) by incorporating them into a social movement that could ultimately benefit society.
What I like
Uprising offers several tips on building a movement from the ground up and integrating it with your brand. These tips including finding a cause, and finding an enemy to rally people against (Such as Apple against IBM.) Most of the ideas in the book can be boiled down to a few simple rules: Be Truthful, be compelling, and be transparent. Overall, give them a reason to come together and support it.
My personal favorite concept is that a business needs to start the movement from within the company before it takes it out to the masses. This is so people can see that the corp. embodies the very things that the movement’s philosophy follows. Goodson does say that you should remain believable as you do this; He points out that when KFC attempted to brand themselves as being against breast cancer, several people called them on it because their product was one of the major contributors to health problems. Essentially, they were viewed as hypocrites.
The book also offers several case studies that show how certain companies incorporated social movements, ranging from popular sites such as Meetup and LiveStrong to niche areas such as Improv Everywhere and No Labels. They include basic info such as the idea, and how it spread. Ideal ideas for when you want examples of how to create a movement that your brand can ride on.
Lastly, Goodson also interviews several people over the course of the book that have started movements that benefitted their companies. One in particular was the former chief marketing officer for PepsiCo, Jill Beraud. Beraud went through her issues with developing reFresh, Pepsi’s attempt at working a movement. She expresses the difficulty of arranging something so complex, including ambassadors, mentors for people under the program and helping people create successful ideas.
What could be improved
There were several studies that used nonprofits as their examples. This made me feel a bit confused, as nonprofits can have much different goals from traditional businesses; people aren’t really customers for a non-profit organization. For the next edition of the book, I suggest eliminating the non-profits (Or possibly making another book dedicated to them.)
I feel that there are several areas of the book where Goodson has confused movements with alternative cultures. It’s my understanding that a movement has a purpose, primarily for social change; alternative cultures are simply associations by people who share a common trait. Would you consider Apple fans a social movement? Goodson does hit on this a little bit in his comparison between tribes and movements, but I don’t think it was enough for me.
This isn’t to say that the advice that Uprising’s gives isn’t relevant to your company. I’ll readily admit that the above paragraph isn’t so much for business people as it is for scholars with Ph.D’s who may want to debate the issue in incomprehensible journals and elitist conferences, but it’s still something they might want to consider for next time.
The bottom line
The people most likely to use this book are marketers for medium-large businesses. Small businesses may benefit from this better because they can grow a movement from within, but I really think this is more for larger corporations with the funding and population to make this happen. Nevertheless, the advice in the book is sound, and if you can do it, go for it.
Disclaimer: This book was offered as a free review copy by the publisher, McGraw Hill. No further compensation was made or promised; this review has been written without any bias intended.