The Power of Vegans in Social Media

26 de August de 2015 by in category Blog TI with 0 and 0
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IN RECENT YEARS DIGITAL TRIBE BOOSTED IMPORTANT INTERNATIONAL CHANGES IN THE FOOD, HEALTH AND BEAUTY INDUSTRY. DISCOVER WHY! In this opportunity, I will introduce a digital tribe that is boosting important changes in the areas of food, health and beauty (particularly cosmetics) in recent years wisely using the influence and viralization networks available in social media. I refer to the group known as “Vegans“. Have you heard? The term “veganism” refers to a life philosophy motivated by ethical convictions on the basis of animal rights, which seeks to prevent their exploitation or abuse, through the boycott of activities and products considered speciesist. However, more than a lifestyle, veganism has become a comprehensive cause capable to impact on brands and people, driving changes in the way food, drugs, cosmetics, clothing and entertainment  is produced and consumed. One of the main banners of the vegans is bound to animal testing (also known as “No animal test” and “Cruelty Free“), consisting of intrusive methods traditionally used by the pharmaceutical industry and (in lesser extent) cosmetics, as part of the development process and approval of its products and treatments. HOW THE VEGANS CAMPAIGNS GOES VIRAL? As a specialist in digital behavior  (some call it as Netnography), I can say that are the emotions that determine when a campaign against (or  in favor) an institutional or personal brand will reach its “turning point“: that defining moment from which the social contagion begins to spread with such force that has no risk communication that could contain it. In my studies about viral campaigns, I have noticed that they spread successfully when the following three elements are interconnected:
  1. A “fragile public“, such as children, elderly or pets. And, in this last case, the prevailing images of animals such as Beagles dogs and rabbits, mice or zebrafishes, as they are the first ones that evoke greater empathy and tenderness, critical to the emotional contagion (the evolutionary biologist call them as presenting “neotenic” traits).
  1. A “potential or real threat” that falls in this fragile public. In which case the tests against animals for research purposes, especially those considered superfluous, such as those linked to the cosmetics industry.
  2. A big “institutional target” responsible – directly or indirectly – by the application of the threat to the fragile public.
Here’s the perfect formula for a campaign become viral in social media. However, it takes a human ingredient to spreads on the web. This is where come into play the “social media strategists“: experts in the art of articulating digital networks to spread the message in their small words of influence. Usually viral phenomena studied by my team of netnographers have the following characteristics:
  1. It starts with a small group I call “campaigns generators” such as NGOs against the animal abuse.
  2. This first group spreads the campaign through a first sphere of “replicators” characterized by sites that are sensible to the cause (blogs, forums and portals, among others) that replicate the message and are based on recognized activists.
  3. The campaign transcends the niche audience and reaches a greater sphere of interest, which usually happens from a stroke effect: the “multiplier event“.
  A BRAZILIAN CASE: THE ROYAL INSTITUTE INVASION OR “HOW TO PASS A BILL IN RECORD TIME”. A recent and impacting example was the invasion of the Royal Institute, where carried out research in the pharmaceutical and veterinary sectors was made. This multiplier event boosted in record time, the approval of a law against animal testing in the state of Sao Paulo (Brazil). A rare case in a country extremely burochratic. It was a short-term strike campaign started by a group of local animal rights activists who camped in front of the Royal Institute in Sao Paulo, Brazil and at dawn on October 18, 2013 they invaded the headquarters of the laboratory, removing by force 178 Beagle dogs and generating a great impact in the national media. The technical and rational response that the director of the Institute made few days later just increased more the viral effect against the reputation of the Institute to the point that today they almost disappear off the face of the (digital) earth. As this (not isolated) case show, vegans activists can develop worldwide actions of impact well planned and supported by previous experience as in this case, almost identical event observed two years earlier in Italy.   BEYOND THE ORIGINAL CAUSE.  A FORCE FOR CHANGE Finally, the most interesting thing about vegans is their growing connections with international networks of activists and organizations in favor of other linked causes, such as: greater regulation on genetically modified foods – GMO (very present today in the United States) and the encouragement of alternative therapies and lifestyles that value the return to a “slow” life (such as “slow food” and “slow beauty”). Weaving an increasingly diverse and influential network, vegans have shown that they think and act strategically even with tactics that – regardless of any value judgment – should be understood as highly effective in an interconnected world. (Ignacio Garcia Zoppi is digital anthropologist, specialized in complex human networks. Co-founder and CEO of Tree Intelligence, he created a collaborative platform for knowledge discovery called LivingNethos)
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