Tuesday, 30 September 2014

#The45Plus: Two MUST Have Ingredients

This post looks at how and why #The45Plus went from a vibrant, positive forum that was trending on Social Media for 2-3 days, to losing large numbers of followers and becoming more politically charged and divisive online and offline... and how to regain momentum.

Started off as #VoteYes
but evolves to become a mindset
After the Scottish independence referendum on the 18th Sept a group of people who voted "Yes" for Scotland to be an independent nation took to Social Media to discuss some breaking news about a crisis with the "Vow" for maximum devolved power and riots that were taking place in Glasgow.

This group decided to chat using #The45 hashtag, a reference to the 45% of people who voted yes and were keen to highlight that 1.6million people was a pretty significant "minority." This hashtag trended for large sections of the weekend.

By the end of the weekend the #VoteYes team had seemed to get through their venting, and any engagement with the #VoteNo camp had went from angry exchanges, to invitations to join in the chat. The hashtag was evolving from #VoteYes to #The45Plus mindset.

The45Plus in Education
I have been working on developing a community like this for the last 2 years in education, but had to abandon my plans as the culture was not right. The reason I took an interest in the Independence Referendum is because I noticed that the conditions were special... as special as the kind of environment that created Silicon Valleys conditions (See posts from 9th, 15th & 20th Sept). This #The45 thing felt like something special.

I was keen to help but wanted to do so in collaboration with the right groups. It took a few days before I could reach anyone by which point #The45 had been renamed to #The45Plus, had made the news and had the politicians doing what they do best. Arguing and calling #The45plus divisive, (See Why all the Fighting) when I did reach people the answers I received included;

Indecision and Procrastination
"We want to do something with this, but we're not sure what to do with it" and "Receiving lots of suggestions... best to get it right than fast"

Momentum is an extremely important component with the roll out of a new idea, we saw the momentum with the Yes camp. This indecision and procrastination allowed others to fill the void and decided the shape that this community would take. This fragmented the group and alienated the "No" camp and made the experience less enjoyable with each visit for many, perhaps with the exception being political activists.

Some groups like Brave Many are appreciating the need to actively cultivate the right culture... Something that should have been done last Monday. I am not sure if we will be able to get #The45Plus group to  fulfil it's full potential as some momentum has been lost, but I am keen to see if I can help. I will be writing some posts on establishing the right culture.

Natural Leadership
There are some natural leaders who are emerging from this who I will be giving my full support to and includes Brave Many (@BraveMany), Wings of Scotland (@WingsScotland) and National Collective (@WeAreNational) and their supporters. The 60+ Yes Scotland accounts are also key. I really liked Brave Many's recent post "Indy Ref and After" by Salmo Salar

I will be detailing some areas that I feel are important to achieve the kind of culture that will allow #The45Plus to achieve it's full potential. Everything I suggest will be to facilitate two key principles that create momentum for tech companies and products (Including Ebay, Amazon, Google, Apple), Network Effects & Positive Feedback Loops.

Network effects
Communication platforms are of more value when they have reached critical mass; telephones, e-mail, mobile phones, social media etc have less value when there are only 100 people subscribing to the service than when there are 1 million. The more people from your friends/group/network subscribing to a service the greater value it will have to you. 

Positive Feedback Loops 
The more positive the experience for users the better the network becomes. If you like a site you will invite others to join you, the more people from your network who join, the more relevant the conversation becomes to you – the more time you spend in this space. These are principles that have assisted google, facebook, you tube, Amazon & ebay etc but there is potential for colleges to apply these principles as well.

Facebook rolled out to Ivy league universities and did not move from one university to the next until the had 50% of the students signed up.Once 50% of the students were using the site they;

1) Stayed on the site for longer, and
2) Other students would join their fellow students 

Being an exclusive club saw other universities and schools want to join. Having their friends on the site made it a positive experience and word spread.

The group was already established through the #VoteYes #IndyRef hashtag so the network effect was already there. The diverse membership ensured that the conversion was varied and the Scots humour made sure that we came back on a regular basis.

The #VoteYes also had a shared identity and the noble cause of wanting independence. 

On Monday 22nd Sept a new culture that integrated both Yes and No voters should have been established and a new set of goals discussed and agreed.

The group did discuss these areas naturally but there was no consensus. The next few posts will discuss this.

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