When we look back in 20 years, the last few years will mark a massive turning point in the history of humankind.

In 2010 would anybody bet one dime on Ghaddafi being overthrown? Or weekly uprisings in Syria? A pharaoh-like figure being relegated to a a sad criminal case? Who would have thought a small tribe could change the face of the GOP in a few months? And, now we have the 99% movement.

I went down to the Los Angeles City Hall to have a look at the OccupyLA movement. A lot of tents, a lot of signs, a lot of discussions. While many of the movements of the Arab Spring were supported by usage of Facebook and Twitter, I saw numerous signs that asked people to abstain from using these popular platforms. Instead, they asked people to use specific sites that can’t be accessed by corporations or the government.

That in itself is fascinating. While people still spread their message through popular social platforms, the real conversation takes place off the common path. This trend will continue and grow in importance. While Facebook and Twitter are mainstream, people will find new ways of connecting with their tribe. There’s a growing understanding that Twitter and Facebook, while convenient and ubiquitous, are not driven by the mission to connect the world or contribute to the greater good. Nope, they are driven by shareholder value and the desire to cash in at one point.

Movements will build their own platforms outside of the mainstream.

This is a huge opportunity for brands.

I’m not sure where the 99% movement is going. Will it become mainstream or just another flash in the pan? Time will tell.

However, I’m certain that the majority of people would like to build a society that spreads wealth more evenly and gives all of us a chance to participate in a flourishing economy. Companies that invest in social causes (or create their own social causes) in full alignment with their core values will not only reap the benefits of popular support but will reinforce brand values and what the brand really stands for.

Let’s face it: Customers are desperate for something to believe in.

This deeply-seated desire represents an unprecedented opportunity for companies seeking to be an instrument of change rather than greed.

Innovative companies will understand that they have to be part of the change. And, they will reap the rewards for doing so. In the future, it’s not enough to be a business leader. You also have to design and build communities that drive their business success for years to come.

Just ask Ben & Jerry’s. They support the 99% movement unequivocally.

And, they already reap the benefits: Publishers and people guessing the name of their #OWS ice cream flavor.


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