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Airbnb, #BlackLivesMatter and the Secret Behind the Most Successful Movements

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A hashtag does not create a movement. It simply raises awareness.

It should be said upfront that these models don’t favor the left or right. In fact, #BlackLivesMatter and Airbnb have built movements using essentially the same tactics that have made the NRA so effective:

Understanding the mechanics behind today’s most successful movements is not only important for each of us as citizens or organizers, but also as entrepreneurs, marketers and executives.

A hashtag does not create a movement — it simply raises awareness to attract followers. Over the long run, follows and shares do little to produce lasting loyalty or sustain change in politics, society or business. In practice, change only happens when followers are organized, such that the most passionate among them can meet each other and coordinate action.

Take #BlackLivesMatter. It’s best known to a mainstream audience for a pervasive presence on Twitter, punctuated by peaceful civil disobedience and protests you see on the news. One could reasonably think all this organizing happens via a hashtag. But there’s a critical step in the middle: an organization of local chapters via the #BlackLivesMatter Network. These 39 chapters around the country are, in their words, “taking opportunity after opportunity to call out the multitude of ways in which violence is inflicted on Black folks across the world.” It's these local chapters, not a social media hashtag, that are doing the real work of building a movement. 

Other grassroots organizations are following their lead. is using its website to capture volunteer interests via a detailed web form. It’s another great example of organizers using a hashtag to move followers into a network of dedicated volunteers for more comprehensive projects that – when connected to each other – create longer, deeper engagement and opportunity for change.

I did not realize there's a BlackLivesMatter Network with 39 chapters:

Successful communities are niche networks around an area of interest:

They start with a passionate person connecting people to an idea. 

More from Mightybell: OWN IT andHairbrained and you can create your own Mightybell Network (it’s free and takes about 30 seconds). 

Local chapters and volunteer teams are key to spreading a movement. 

Airbnb is one of the handful of savvy companies creating a dedicated community action network to grow its business. From the beginning, Airbnb sought to build strong relationships with its hosts, bringing them together in their own local online groups. As the platform has grown and faced greater scrutiny from city regulators, they have taken the unique step of organizing and activating these hosts with specific asks.

For example, in its fight with San Francisco last fall, a “people-to-people voting bloc” of hosts, guests and supporters knocked on hundreds of thousands of doors and attended each and every legislative hearing to defeat Measure F, a bill that would have more tightly regulated homesharing in the city. After the Chicago host club made 42 visits to legislators and 1,500 phone calls to elected officials, Chicago passed a set of Airbnb-friendly regulations that allow the company to continue to operate in the city. Anticipating a larger fight, this year Airbnb plans to grow its 64 local host clubs to 100 new cities around the world.

Both Airbnb and #BlackLivesMatter show that while Twitter and Facebook are great at spreading outrage, it’s a community action network with local chapters and volunteer teams that asks people to show up at hearings, write letters to elected officials and meet other activists locally that really gets things done.

The product that this is an advertisement for seems potentially interesting.

Agreed. That's why I shared it. The CEO seems genuine, too.

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