THE BLOG
06/28/2013 06:06 pm ET Updated Aug 28, 2013

The Top Ten Trends in Activism and Online Engagement

I've been working with social entrepreneurs, NGO's, and companies that either already do or finally want to care for a long long time -- being raised on communes in California will do that to a man. I'm fascinated with the evolution of technology, humanity, and social movements, and how they are coalescing at such pace. As we teeter on the precipice of Big Data's explosion and the Millennial world take-over (bacon kale and bourbon for all!), there remain questions:

Will non-profits move past ego, merge, and put themselves out of business through collective action to solve the issues for which they fight so valiantly? Will the 'share and care' attitude of so many start-ups fundamentally alter the business models of the Fortune 500? Will Kim and Kanye call the next one 'Southbysouth?

Making good decisions often relies on understanding circumstances and patterns, so, in the meantime, and at no extra charge, a look at the top 10 key trends in online activism and 'social good' engagement. May it help you get where you're going.

1) Organizational affection is tremendously elastic with Millennials - it's the issue, not the particular group working on it, that means most, so plan accordingly.

Look at something like famine in the Horn of Africa. There are handfuls of dedicated, determined NGO's working to feed tens of thousands of starving refugees. Millennials care far less about who is doing the feeding; they want to be involved in getting the feeding done.

2) Breadth, not depth - the incessant barrage of causes and issues and asks and likes and clicks and shares means today's consumer has a much broader awareness of issues, and much less time or focus to thoroughly digest specific focus areas.

A week of the New York Times contains more information than an American living a century ago was exposed to in a lifetime. It's a sound bite world - get yours right.

3) River jumping is getting tougher - the self-organizing, always optimizing nature of the web and how we use it can mean an overabundance of reinforcing ideas, as opposed to a broadening of opinion.

Unless you're that rare specimen with insatiable curiosity and a high-tolerance for dissonant opinions, odds are that your circle reinforces what you already believe. That's why stories like "I was a Republican for a week and this is what I learned" are fairly rare and usually interesting.

4) Here comes everybody, and they're all amazing -Is there a moment of our navel gazing lives that isn't amazing and worth filming!?! Well, maybe, but there is a tremendous sense of entitlement, which has both positive and negative consequences.

We need followers as much as leaders. The rush to innovate is seductive, and sometimes overrated. There's no harm in supporting your neighbor's great idea, or letting some of yours go.

5) It's cool to care. That's rad.

Right? Finally.

6) The bells and whistles are shiny and new, but you damn well better know your history. The sweet spot is the middle ground between Malcolm Gladwell's atavistic amour and the slacktivist turned activist debate.

If I had a hammer, I would hammer in the morning, hammer in the evening....you know the song. But whether you hammer the first few nails in the foundation of a new house for a needy family or take a whack at the back of someone's head is up to you. A tool's a tool; it's how you use it.

7) Payola is back! The line between journalism and advertising has vanished. Cry a lot, but deal with it.

Purists will never accept that news is anything other than that which can be verified by at least two sources and fact-checked in advance. But the crowd at my dad's poker game is dwindling, and everyone else needs to understand how pay-to-play has forever blurred news and ads. Eschew obfuscation? I think not.

8) You're the strongest when you let go.

Remember back in the day when we built engagement ladders and mapped out steps to engage people? Me too. It better be mutual and dynamic and transparent, or you'll lose your audience.

9) Storytelling. It's this year's Authenticity.

It means be interesting and honest. Even when you're wrong. Nothing beats a great story. Except when other people tell yours for you. You better give them the tools and some freedom.

10) Women get the same amount of pay as men, we are putting the planet's health above short-term financial gains, income gaps are shortening, and we've created a fair playing field.

Yeah, exactly. There's a long way to go, so pace yourselves. It's important. And it won't get done without you.

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