What The #FreeBritney Movement Teaches About The Power Of Community
Today, with the power of social media, the world can decide to make anything happen. It just takes a few vocal people to start an internet movement and create real change.
The kids and teens who created dance routines in their bedrooms to Britney Spears songs have grown up to be part of a bigger community. The #FreeBritney movement has created a community all over the internet and is accessible and easy to enter. It didn’t take much for fans to use the #FreeBritney hashtag or read a blog and feel like they were part of something bigger.
People have power on their own, but that power becomes unstoppable when joined in community.
The #FreeBritney movement has been everywhere in recent years, hitting a fever pitch over the last few months.
It’s a complicated and long-lasting legal feud but essentially boils down to this: During Britney Spears’ well-publicized breakdown in 2008, her father took control of her finances and personal life. Now, more than a decade later and as Britney is nearly 40 with a stable life and thriving career, her father is still her conservator, pulling the strings and not allowing Britney to live her life.
It’s easy to see why the world is so invested in Britney’s plight—who didn’t wear sparkly eyeshadow to a middle school dance and listen to Britney Spears’ music with their friends? Even as adults, we’ve sweated to Britney-themed spin classes and rooted for her during her ups and downs. To many adults, Britney Spears is the perfect dose of nostalgia, and we want what’s best for her.
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Britney’s plight has been documented on podcasts, blogs and a popular documentary. As fans learned more about Britney’s situation and her father’s ruthless control over her career, schedule and finances, they became vocal and signed petitions and held protests. The #FreeBritney movement was everywhere.
The swell of social media support had a direct impact on Britney’s life and livelihood. Cries to #FreeBritney were heard around the world and introduced people to her situation. That push played a major role in eventually ending Britney’s conservatorship by keeping attention on the case until her dad had no choice but to give up control. Community pressure even led Congress to introduce an act to protect other people in conservatorships.
Fans of Britney call themselves the Britney Army, and their efforts are nothing short of military-grade. Once again, a community joined forces to make something happen.
What Companies Can Learn
#FreeBritney shows the incredible power of communities. Power has shifted to the consumer, and that power grows when people gather together.
Communities are inclusive and welcoming. Although Britney’s conservatorship was complicated, the community simplified the issues so that anyone could understand and join. It became something everyone could get behind because it tapped into strong memories and nostalgia. Teens and tweens that wanted to be Britney years ago could now empathize with her plight as an adult, and they wanted to do something about it.
Instead of fearing community, companies need to lean into this new power. The cumulative voices of a community are powerful for shaping policy, creating and designing products and impacting global issues.
#FreeBritney shows how people can join together and use their voices to enact change. Community is powerful and something people want to join.
No matter if it’s for creating a new product, testing a new idea or driving real change in the world, community is a powerful way to make things happen.
Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, keynote speaker and the author of the bestselling book The Customer Of The Future. Be part of the brand new Customer Experience Community here.