Graphic by K8 Strassman

Momentum for Change

We challenge all Americans to commit to sustaining the momentum for ending systemic racism.

A Decode_M and SwanSG Special

Demonstrations around the country calling for an end to police brutality & systemic racism and reminding us that #BlackLivesMatter following the murder of George Floyd have driven the MFactor for change to surge.

Our MFactor measures momentum by scoring mass (metrics that measure awareness) with velocity (metrics that measure discussion & engagement). We attribute high scores to our five pillars of momentum: disruption, innovation, polarization, stickiness and social impact.

Initial spikes of momentum might amount to a passing fad only, like when something goes viral online. For this movement to achieve the end goal of real change, it needs to continue to evolve & transform to maintain long-lasting momentum.

We challenge all Americans to commit to sustaining the momentum for ending systemic racism.

From an MFactor of 20 in mid-May to 83 this week, “Change” hit all five momentum drivers.

Decode_M’s proprietary MFactor data. Graphic by K8 Strassman

From an MFactor of 21 in January, the #BLM movement surged last week to 56 — the first time it’s been over 50 in at least a year

Decode_M’s proprietary MFactor data. Graphic by K8 Strassman

DISRUPTION: When continuity is broken, disruption can be viewed as a bad thing. People like routines. But disruption drives change.

Sheltering at home had taken root. Americans were isolating to avoid contracting COVID-19 and were adjusting to this new period of self-preservation. The horrific, senseless murder of George Floyd moved many of us out of our homes and into the streets for a cause bigger than any one of us.

To maintain momentum, the movement will need to sustain the action we’ve seen this past week.

Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

INNOVATION: Momentum requires constant change and reinvention of products and methods. We saw that with the mobilization tools used over the course of this week’s protests.

A debate has started to rage over whether young Americans are less engaged in activism than past generations were, despite the advent of social media as their customary outlet to vocalize support for a cause. There’s more to it. Algorithm-driven digital protesting is a hyper-personalized way to provide people with the easy & effective tools to learn, discuss and take action — like going to their city centers to protest in person, giving this moment a chance to be more impactful than those of the past.

Star Tribune via Getty Images

POLARIZATION: Energized, competing arguments drive velocity, which increases momentum.

The topic of police reform generated a rousing debate. Heated discussions all over the country this week about the level of funding for police departments, the role of enforcement and specific policies featured mayors, governors and citizens and dominated social media.

Many organizations have shared specific steps to take. The narrower and more specific the call to action, the more likely the momentum leads to change. The passion on both sides of the debate makes clear that police reform is a driving force in the conversation about change.

STICKINESS: Some topics and ideas have greater impact than others. They inspire people to engage.

The tragedy of systemic racism is registering with white Americans in ways it hasn’t previously, in part due to the parallel crisis: Black Americans are dying from COVID-19 at a much higher rate, and they are suffering more economic losses from shutdowns. This has made the #BlackLivesMatter protests considerably more sticky than they’ve been in the past.

There is a new sense of eagerness to listen, learn and understand the experiences that black friends, colleagues and those in our community have faced. The deeply personal & vulnerable nature of these stories is connecting the dots for a wider audience.

SOCIAL IMPACT: An authentic effort to contribute to the world and make society better through a cause has the ability to increase velocity, and consequently momentum.

Over the past week, saying nothing hasn’t been an option — for any person, organization or brand. Donations are pouring in to groups fighting racial injustice. Brands are blacking out their content to provide room for melanated voices to rise, and companies are committing to new diversity practices and action. This comprehensive effort to better our culture has been a key element of the momentum for change and #BlackLivesMatter.

People, organizations and companies that measure their commitment and keep themselves and their employees accountable for real change can help strengthen this moment.

Will the momentum for Change” be sustained? It’s too early to tell. But we are hopeful and committed to being part of the solution.

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Graphic by K8 Strassman

This article is a feature from the Decode_M and SwanSG Up & Down, our weekly newsletter in which we decode why certain habits, brands, personalities and products have momentum and others do not.

About MFactor Scores: Created and administered by research, insights and strategy firm Decode_M, The MFactor is a single score that quantifies Cultural Momentum and is based on the Newtonian definition of Mass times Velocity. We use data science, inputs from thousands of sources and proprietary AI to compute new metrics that reflect how polarizing, innovative or sticky any subject of interest is.

About SwanSG: We are a boutique external affairs agency that conceptualizes, develops and implements innovative, game-changing strategies to help companies, new concepts and individuals break out through content development across platforms.

Momentum Maker, Author of Maximum Momentum, Founder & CEO of Decode_M