THE POWER OF VEGANS IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA

IN RECENT YEARS, TRIBE DIGITAL HAS PUSHED IMPORTANT INTERNATIONAL CHANGES IN THE FOOD, HEALTH AND BEAUTY INDUSTRY. Find out why!

On this occasion, I will introduce a digital tribe that is driving major changes in the areas of food, health and beauty (especially cosmetics) in recent years, using wisely the networks of influence and viralization available on social media. I refer to the group known as Vegan. Have you heard?

The term “Veganism” It refers to a philosophy of life motivated by ethical convictions based on animal rights, which seeks to prevent its exploitation or abuse by boycotting activities and products considered speciesist.

However, more than just a lifestyle, veganism has become a widespread cause that can impact brands and people, promoting changes in the way food, medicine, cosmetics, clothing and entertainment are produced and consumed. One of vegans' main banners is linked to animal testing (also known as “No Animal Testing” and “No Cruelty”), which consist of intrusive methods traditionally used by the pharmaceutical industry and (to a lesser extent) cosmetics as part the process of developing and approving their products and treatments.

HOW WERE VEGAN CAMPAIGNS VIRAL?

As a specialist in digital behavior (some call it netnography), I can say that it is emotions that determine when a campaign against (or in favor of) an institutional or personal brand will reach its “turning point”: that turning point from which the Social contagion begins to spread so strongly that there is no risk communication that can contain it.

In my viral campaign studies, I noticed that they spread successfully when the following three elements are interconnected:

  1. A “fragile audience,” such as children, seniors, or pets. And in the latter case, the predominant images of animals, such as Beagles dogs and rabbits, rats, or zebrafish, as they are the first to evoke greater empathy and tenderness, essential for emotional contagion (evolutionary biologist calls them “traces”). neotenic).
  2. A “potential or real threat” that falls on this fragile audience. In this case, animal testing for research purposes, especially those considered superfluous, such as those linked to the cosmetics industry.
  3. A major "institutional target" responsible - directly or indirectly - for applying the threat to the fragile public.

Here's the perfect formula for a campaign to go viral on social media. However, it takes a human ingredient to spread on the web. This is where the “social media strategists” come in: experts in the art of articulating digital networks to spread the message in their little words of influence.

Usually, the viral phenomena studied by my team of netnographers have the following characteristics:

  1. It starts with a small group that I call “campaign generators” such as NGOs against animal abuse.
  2. This first group spreads the campaign across a first sphere of “replicators” characterized by cause-sensitive sites (blogs, forums, and portals, among others) that replicate the message and are based on recognized activists.
  3. The campaign transcends the audience niche and reaches a larger sphere of interest, which usually comes from a stroke effect: the “multiplier event”.

A BRAZILIAN CASE: THE INSTITUTE'S REAL INVASION OR “HOW TO PASS AN ACCOUNT IN RECORD TIME”.

A recent and striking example was the invasion of the Royal Institute, where research was conducted in the pharmaceutical and veterinary sectors. This multiplier event prompted in record time the approval of a law against animal testing in the state of São Paulo (Brazil). A rare case in an extremely bureaucratic country.

It was a short-term strike campaign initiated by a group of local animal rights activists who camped in front of the Instituto Real in São Paulo, Brazil and, at dawn on October 18, 2013, stormed the laboratory headquarters, removing the strength 178 Beagle dogs and generating a major impact on the national media.

The technical and rational response that the director of the Institute gave a few days later only further increased the viral effect against the Institute's reputation, to the point that it is almost disappearing from the (digital) face of the earth.

As this (not isolated) case shows, Vegan activists can develop well-planned global impact actions backed by previous experiences, as in this case, an almost identical event observed two years earlier in Italy.

BEYOND THE ORIGINAL CAUSE. A force of change

Finally, what is most interesting about vegans is their growing connection with international networks of activists and organizations in favor of other related causes, such as: increased regulation of genetically modified foods - GMO (currently present in the United States) and the encouragement of alternative therapies. and lifestyles that value returning to a “slow” life (such as “slow food” and “slow beauty”).

By creating an increasingly diverse and influential network, vegans have shown that they think and act strategically, even with tactics that - regardless of any value judgment - must be viewed as highly effective in an interconnected world.

(Ignacio Garcia Zoppi is a digital anthropologist specializing 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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