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The Influencers

How to Escape Riptides and Spot Counter Movements

INFLUENCER: StrawberryFrog's Scott Goodson on what to do if you find yourself in a 'Riptide Movement'

How to Escape Riptides and Spot Counter Movements

With the passing of Labor Day weekend here in New York City, summer is officially winding down to its last day on September 22nd. This time of year is hurricane season, and with it comes a swimming danger that you should be aware of: the riptide.

Riptides (properly called rip currents, as they’re not actually a tide), are long, narrow channels of water that move from shore to sea and can take you with them as they go. They especially peak in August through October.

"But what do riptides have to do with marketing," you ask?

I know, it sounds like a long shot. But bear with me here. 

For almost twenty years, StrawberryFrog has been engineering marketing movements for brands like Google, Heineken, P&G and Emirates Airline globally. 

In my best-selling book ‘Uprising’, about how to lead a marketing movement, I argued that the time has come to create brand movements that drive, share and tackle some of the world's bigger issues because we need it - and moreover today's consumers demand it. 

We have aligned, crystallised, spurred on and ignited social movements where brands define the change they want to make in the world, rally millions of people to the cause and work towards that change. These movements tell people there is something you need to hear, there is something you need to do, there is something you need to do differently, and there is something you need to do now. Movements emanate from ideas, but are grounded in action. 

We've also engineered movements where brands engage with culture, with the help of crowds, accelerating the brands to dominance. In both cases the brands have engineered the marketing framework and outcomes.

Even when it comes to internal movements within companies, StrawberryFrog has been culturally transforming huge corporations by devising movements inside the company more effectively than traditional HR programs. 

Since the election of the new American president, I have started to respect the power of the counter movement. The powerful force that exists in the wake of a movement. This force has the strength to not only dislodge the first movement you may create, but moreover do it with incredible intensity. 

Case in point, the Trump election. Many pundits have tried to explain the reasons for the electoral college victory of Donald Trump. I believe there is another explanation. 

Counter Movements are formed in the wake of movements. Obama's movement for change was led by a cultural movement for intelligent, articulate thoughts and actions. This impressed some citizens of the United States but at the very same time it irked others. The Obama cultural movement did not rally or reflect a swath of America's hinterland. And when the time came for cultural revolt, the man who represented the backside of the Obama Cultural Movement was swept into power.

Pauline Brown, Professor at the Harvard Business School describes it this way: "The bigger the front the bigger the back." Meaning, the larger the first impact, the larger the second impact is as a consequence of the first. 

Thinking about this further from the comfort of my beach chair, I also believe that there are two other movement forces to be weary of. 

Undercurrents are the powerful surges that are not visible to the naked eye but have the power to cause great havoc. The most deadly undercurrent to reckon with is the riptide. 80% of all open water rescue attempts are due to riptides, and they claim over 100 victims a year. So here’s a primer on what a rip current is, how to spot one, and how to survive if you get picked up and taken for a ride.

Unlike brand movements, riptides can occur anywhere. Spotting a rip current movement in marketing is not always easy, especially to the untrained eye. 

Unbeknownst to the swimmer in the surf, this invisible, powerful force rises up and grabs hold. It pulls with such intensity that the swimmer has but one chance to escape its grip.

Like a rip current, the Rip Movement can suddenly appear. They can also rapidly ramp up in velocity. 

Like rip currents, Rip Movements can appear suddenly and - by means of technology - spread with enormous force incredibly quickly. This means that brand leaders should try to understand the ideas on the rise that will create and motivate great mass movements that they can align their brands with. One must also keep the rip current movement in mind. The hidden force that can rise up without warning and create a major whammy on your efforts. 

Back on the beach, here is what you can do to escape a riptide:

Don’t panic. Feeling like you’re getting swept out to sea can be terrifying. But try to keep calm. Rip currents won’t pull you under — they’re just channels of moving water. And while they can extend a ways out, they do eventually dissipate, most within 50-100 feet of the shoreline. So you’re not going to wash up on the shores of a deserted island with only a volleyball for a friend.

Deaths that result from riptides aren’t caused by the current pulling someone under; instead, the person typically panics, starts trying to swim against the rip to get back to shore, becomes exhausted, and drowns. 

If you find yourself in a Riptide Movement, don't panic and don't swim against the Rip.

Scott Goodson, Movement Maker, Founder of StrawberryFrog

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Genre: Strategy/Insight