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How to Create a Grassroots Movement Using Social Networking Sites

You’ve got an idea and boundless energy. Turn your dream of making a difference into reality by using social networks to spread the word. For more information on social movements, go to "":


  • Step 1: Lay out the movement’s basics Figure out the story you’re trying to tell. Make sure you can articulate why people should join your cause.
  • Step 2: Pick a name Decide on your movement's name and motto. It should be short and self-explanatory. Consider whether it will be easily understood in other languages.
  • TIP: If you or a friend is skilled at graphic design, create a logo as well.
  • Step 3: Choose your site Choose which social-networking site to use. If you’re a member of several, pick the one where you have the most connections.
  • TIP: Use tools that search your address book and connections to help expand your network.
  • Step 4: Design a group page Create a group with its own page on the social- networking website, and include pictures, videos, and an area for interactive comments. Explain the movement as clearly and briefly as possible. Don’t exaggerate--let the facts tell the story.
  • TIP: A valid emotional hook can pique people’s interest.
  • Step 5: Build a website Create a stand-alone website dedicated to your cause and provide a link to it on the social-networking site’s group page. You’ll be able to offer more information here, as well as attract anyone who isn’t a member of the social-networking site.
  • Step 6: Invite your contacts Include as many different social and professional circles as you can in your network. Then, invite your contacts to join the group. Personalize the invitation with a message that emphasizes the importance of your cause.
  • TIP: Tailor the invitation message to different people by appealing to their interests and backgrounds.
  • Step 7: Promote discussion Encourage discussion and debate on the group page's discussion board. You might get new ideas from recent members, and you can also (politely) address any detractors.
  • Step 8: Publicize Don't limit yourself to online publicity--promote your cause on the ground. At a party? Steer the conversation to your movement. Meeting someone for the first time? Don't be shy about bringing it up.
  • TIP: Distribute fliers, business cards, T-shirts, iron-on transfers, or baseball caps with your cause’s name and logo. See if a local retailer or manufacturer will donate any goods.
  • Step 9: Use IM and microblogging Augment your reach by linking to the group page in your instant-message or microblogging status update.
  • Step 10: Take advantage of momentum As your cause gains steam, take advantage of the momentum. Contact media outlets for press coverage, seek support from political and cultural leaders, and plan an event, like a rally, to increase exposure.
  • Step 11: Start locally; think globally The fastest way to start a grassroots movement is in your local community. But don’t limit yourself to the surrounding area--thinking in global terms will help you reach more people as your movement builds. You never know how big you can get!
  • FACT: On a single day in 2008, 12 million people around the world protested the FARC, a Colombian rebel group. The movement started on Facebook.

You Will Need

  • A compelling cause
  • A computer with internet access
  • A profile on a social-networking site
  • An extensive network
  • Business cards
  • T-shirts
  • or baseball caps
  • Iron-on transfers
  • A computer printer

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