Occupy Wall Street – Groundswell of Economic Injustice

Occupy Wall Street
Image by Kap Kap

The Occupy Wall Street protests have spread across the country, capturing the hearts of America’s disenfranchised. These events have sparked a debate across America — particularly online — about economic injustice in America.

Occupy Wall Street has been criticized for its lack of primary objective and message. Like it or not, pundits and critiques are dealing with a groundswell of anger towards the rich and corporate America. This effort grows stronger with each week in spite of criticism.

Image from Mother Jones

The moniker of economic injustice is being used loosely, but in a recession or depression or jobless recovery (take your pick) entering its fourth year, a movement has been touched off. Like the 18th century French mob arisen in times of famine, Occupy Wall Street demands attention.

The media ignored this movement at first. The government — local, state and most importantly, national — is for the most part still ignoring it. President Obama finally acknowledged the movement in a half-hearted statement on Thursday touting the financial industry’s strength. Yet Occupy Wall Street does not go away.

This is mostly because of the relentless will of the original New York protestors, and now their counterparts in other cities. They are not satisfied with the economic disparity and conditions in this country, and won’t be turned back by criticism, insults, police violence and platitudes.


And yes, the protestors have used blogs, Flickr photos, and social network posts helped to keep Occupy Wall Street alive. Yet another example of the Fifth Estate rising when traditional power and media structures refused to address news and/or problems.

Though dismissed, an opportunity is being missed with Occupy Wall Street. Nonprofits seeking to resolve issues of poverty and financial inequality should be leading the charge. Democrats who would naturally gravitate towards this series of issues — especially given tax debates of late — are avoiding Occupy Wall Street. Violence has tuned up the issue to new levels.

The end result? More steam with bigger and more widespread protests.


Conservative “anti-capitalism, socialist” spin isn’t going to make this one go away. Like the Arab Spring, like the Tea Party, like the angered Greeks, there is too much pain. No communications plan can fly in the face of a stakeholder groundswell centered on real problems. Occupy Wall Street is shaping the national debate.

What do you think about Occupy Wall Street?

The State of Influencer Theory Infographic

The State of Influencer Theory

The above infographic — “The State of Influencer Theory” (download here) — was published today as part of a primer on influence theory that appeared in SmartBrief on Social Media. The post updates a section of Welcome to the Fifth Estate to include leaderboard theory, such as Klout and Empire Avenue.

Addressing some issues pointed out in “Infographics: Art or Porn,” this graphic is designed by Jess3 (thank you, Jesse and Leslie), the industry leader in online data visualization. The infographic fits on one screen view. Because the graphic depicts people and theories, it is designed as a fun, cartoonesque map that illustrates the evolution of theory, creating a pop art element to it. The downloadable graphic is licensed as Creative Commons (with attribution), is high resolution, and can be made into a poster or screen wallpaper.

The key for the data elements in the graphic can be found in the companion post and is listed below:

The Tipping Point (2000) by Malcolm Gladwell – Movements are caused by three types of influencers; connectors, mavens (subject matter experts) and salesmen. Examples: Old Spice Guy, Dell Listens.

Six Degrees/Weak Ties (2003) by Duncan Watts — Data analysis shows influencers rarely start contagious movements, instead average citizens provide the spark. Examples: Egyptian Revolution, Tumblr – Digg Events.

One Percenters (2006) Jackie Huba & Ben McConnell – It is the content creators amongst Internet communities that drive online conversations. Examples: Lady Gaga, Ford Vista.

The Magic Middle (2006) by David Sifry: The middle tier of content creators and voices break stories and discussing that trickle up into widespread contagious events. Examples: 2008 Obama Election, Motrin Moms.

The Groundswell (2008) by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff: Movements start within communities, and leaders rise up out of the community, and can have many roles including content creator, critic and collector. Examples: Haiti Earthquake Texting, Pepsi Refresh.

Trust Agents (2009) by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith – Influencers are people who build online trust and relationships whose communities look to them for advice and direction. Examples: Gary Vaynerchuk (WineLibrary.TV), Republican Party’s #FirePelosi Campaign.

Free Agents (2010) by Beth Kanter and Allison Fine – These trusted influencers are independent of traditional command and control organizations, and crash into the walls of storied cultures. Examples: @BPGlobalPR, Robert Scoble at Microsoft – Channel 8

Leaderboards (2010-11): Influence can be quantified by online actions taken by a person’s community, including retweets, mentions, comments and more. Examples: Klout, Empire Avenue.

Because the article is meant to serve as an objective primer on well-discussed theories, there’s little opinion about which theories work and don’t. You do see some alignment in the graphic of top down versus bottom up theories, as well as the basic offsetting of these two theory families, with Gladwell and Watts taking opposite sides. However, there is much to say from an opinion standpoint, and it will be said here next week. :)

Need Mobile Intel? Read The Third Screen

The third screenSome books capture the spirit of a marketing zeitgeist just as it begins to happen in full force. Seth Godin‘s Permission Marketing and Charlene Li & Josh Bernoff‘s Groundswell were two such books. Chuck Martin’s The Third Screen is arguably of the same caliber for the forthcoming mobile marketing revolution.

Centered around the Untethered Consumer — freed from the bondage of traditional marketing methods — the book helps marketers capture the true nature of mobile media. It serves as a solid primer, going into the history of wireless communications, and explaining why businesses have so little control over mobile stakeholders. Basically, anytime a customer interacts with a business it is strictly on their terms. It is completely an opt-in experience.

Martin’s strength lies in his discussion of mobile platforms. His knowledge of operating systems, application usage, international usage and different types of mobile media (web, apps, texting) is universal.

A pragmatic ongoing conversation in the book includes media usage patterns, and how people interact with their smartphones. Social media wonks maybe disappointed as interaction drops on the “third screen” (the first being TV, and the second is desktop computers). While interactions do occur on the phone, screen size and input methods change a person’s interaction with online media.

In addition, Martin uses significant case studies to illustrate his points, including a fantastic Cars.com case study. In the Cars.com case study, Martin details the thorough process the company went through to adapt mobile, including some a great research and listening phase. This case study alone is worth the price of the book, and could be run in Harvard Business Review (the magazine, not the blogs).

The book was written in 2010 so there is little discussion of the now growing tablet boom, though Martin does pick up the topic here and there. Martin does a fantastic job of using market statistics to back up his theories and observations.

Nitpicks include a slow start. The Third Screen‘s introduction and first chapter were repetitive, and could stand for some editorial cuts. In addition, the Pepsi Refresh case study was very questionable based on the actual business results.

However, don’t let these small items dissuade you. From the perspective of an online marketer and a former wireless reporter, this book was impressive. The Third Screen is a fantastic primer on mobile, and is a must read for any interactive professional.

Evolving with an Independent Fifth Estate

Colours [Explored 2008-05-26   #451]

Organizations can experience success within their social communities, and feel like they have arrived (colors image by cjnzja). They have mastered the crowd. Given how difficult building a community can be, it’s easy to fall into this trap.

Consider how Nokia built the very successful Mosh social community for third party phone platform development. Then Mosh became a community for the phone company’s online store and the excitement died down quickly.

People — including those that comprise the vociferous Fifth Estate — are complex. No one person has a singular area of interest in a particular subject matter. People like or don’t like the arts, sports, civic activity, working, parenting, family, etc., etc. To assume that as an organization we can capture their interest and own it is, well, short sighted at best.

In reality, the Fifth Estate may become aligned with an organization for a period of time, then they move on. As Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff noted in their book Groundswell, the community’s support can rise and fall with the moment. Engaging interested Fifth Estate members in a conversation about a cause or a company’s products & services over a long period of time is extraordinarily difficult.


The summer of 2010 saw a viral success with the Old Spice Guy, a series of advertisements mixed with social media that featured a shirtless buff actor making witty quips about manliness towards ladies. The Internet was awash in buzz and discussion with people eager to get a response from the Old Spice guy in video or on Twitter. By the autumn, the buzz started dying down as the concept aged and then Old Spice switched the ad campaign targeted towards men with football spokespersons.

In the U.S. cause space, more than 2.5 million charities compete for volunteers. According to the National Conference on Citizenship, 62 million Americans volunteered with a nonprofit between 2007 and 2009. Yet, 18.6 million people took action with their neighbors independent of a 501c3 to fix a community problem (29% of the larger 501c3 volunteer base). Even with an overcrowded nonprofit sector, causes cannot convince a great majority of Americans to seek out and/or stay with them as their volunteering vehicle.

In the 2009 movie, George Clooney as Ryan Bingham said, “There’s nothing cheap about loyalty.” Building and then keeping a community engaged requires dedication, a commitment to serve, with an eye on moving with the community’s interests. There’s no better example than online communities that sustain interest over years of time, and even more impressive are those that crowdsource for sustained periods of time.

The above is draft material for my next book, Welcome to the Fifth Estate (the follow up to Now Is Gone, which is almost out of print). Comments may be used in the final edition. You can download the first drafted chapter of the new edition — Welcome to the Fifth Estate — for free.