On the 1st April 2020, Captain Tom Moore was unknown to over 99% of the UK. But by 1st May, he had 2 Guinness world records, a no.1 single in the UK, a winner of a Pride of Britain Award, appointed an honorary Colonel, named Point of Light by Boris Johnson, was awarded a Gold Blue Peter Badge, Had an RAF flypast for his birthday, received over 125,000 birthday cards, has the freedom Keighley and now London and will soon be knighted. The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres even video called him to wish him a happy birthday.

How did 1 man become a global success in less than 1 month?

When I first came across Tom Moore’s story, It was just a few posts on Social Media of a war veteran wanting to support and raise money for the NHS by walking 100 laps of his garden.

In fact, his posts were mixed in with plenty of other fantastic people doing wonderful things to support the NHS and vulnerable, in the growing coronavirus crisis.

So why him? Why did Tom Moore become a national hero?

It’s fantastic what he has achieved. Brilliant. But why him out of everyone fundraising? This is a question that just kept going round in my head whenever I saw him. what had he done that made him so much more successful than all the others? There were disabled people fundraising, children doing remarkable things, but it was he who rose to the top.

It wasn’t until several weeks later, when watching an interview with Jonah Berger, who wrote ‘Contagious’, that I could easily piece my thoughts, ideas and the events together and find my own answer.

Jonah Berger’s book ‘Contagious – why things catch on’, is all about dissecting and understanding why certain things go viral. Why do people talk about certain products or ideas? And why are some stories more infectious?

Within his book, he refers to ‘6 STEPPS’, which is his breakdown of why things go viral. These 6 ideas, don’t need to be in every product or idea but if you have a few strong ones, then it can make a huge difference. And if you know and understand these 6 principles, you can craft your story, idea or product to maximise their effectiveness.

The “6 STEPPS” and how they relate to Captain Tom Moore

The 6 principles or as the acronym coined by Jonah, STEPPS are:

SOCIAL CURRENCY

People care about how they are perceived by others. Look at Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and you see people posting, making comments and sharing things that reflect well on them.

By sharing Tom Moore’s fundraising it made people feel good. They were helping, taking part, all from the comfort of their own chair. They were helping to fight the problem and help the united cause.

This, of course, is true for lots of people fundraising at the time, so there was nothing in particular about Tom Moore’s campaign that made him stand out any different in terms of social currency.

TRIGGERS

‘Top of mind, tip of the tongue’. Triggers have context. There is a relevance to the event, product or idea and what is relevant to the person in their life.

Tom Moore was a war veteran. He himself had been on the frontline 80+ years previously, and the country was looking forward to celebrating 75 year anniversary of VE day. Tom Moore fitted perfectly into this. Whenever someone, something mentioned the frontline workers or VE day, Tom was relevant.

This was a distinct advantage other fundraisers did not have. A few may have the front line relevance or they may have the WWII relevance, but very few had both to capture the mood and the nation.

EMOTION

Plays a huge part in our everyday lives and has a huge effect on what we share. Things that are close to our heart are easier to share. We want to show we care and we want to help those that we care about.

Captain Tom was a 99year old war veteran. He was humble and kind. He was your Grandad. Heck, he was everyone’s Grandad. He walked with a zimmer frame and he was doing a little something (again – 80 years later) to help us all. We all felt the need to support him and celebrate him. He was the British spirit, personified.

Others would have had emotion on their side, but not as much as Tom Moore. He had it in bucket loads. He was our Grandad, walking 100 laps of his garden with a zimmer frame. It was going to take him days but he wasn’t for giving up. No sir. Every day he did the laps. This wasn’t a 2-hour thing or a 24-hour thing, this was someone pushing themselves, and it was our Grandad doing it. There was no way we could NOT support him.

PUBLIC

If we see others doing it and the more other people do it, the more compelled we feel to join in.

As the pace gathered and media coverage grew every day with Captain Tom, more people joined in and shared his fundraising. They donated and felt compelled to donate, as many others before them had. It started to spread across the globe featuring in news stories in other countries. Gaining a wider audience and potentially more people to donate.

With the other 5 factors at play the momentum grew. It was the snowball effect. Growing every day as he did the laps and news agencies and social media fell over themselves to join in.

PRACTICAL VALUE

Relates to useful news or news you can share because it is useful for others.

The news of Tom Moore doing his walk was not particularly useful to anyone, but it was useful news in that it was a way people could easily help in the fight against Covid-19. By going to his just-giving page and donating, they were helping and sharing his fundraising effort.

This was no different to the others fundraising, it is why others have managed to raise funds in their own way, albeit at a much more local level.

STORIES

When what you are doing, your idea or product has a story, it is so much easier for others to share. It becomes memorable and easy to convey the whys and what-fors. Stories are the glue that binds the other aspects together and makes it easy to share, talk and discuss with friends, family, in fact, anyone.

Tom Moore’s story was a fantastic one. It had relevance, it had characters, it adversity, it had history and it had heroism. Everything you need in a classic Hollywood blockbuster. It was a great story to tell, to share and to be associated with. Anyone hearing it couldn’t help but share it. It was tear-jerker and heart-warmer all in one.

Whilst the Queen cancelled her birthday celebrations, in line with the current crisis, Tom Moore just a week later received over 125,000 birthday cards and an RAF flypast. Wow.

Now Tom Moore’s achievements are fantastic, all for a good cause and worthy, but you can see with a little thought on how you tell the story, set up the elements of your product or idea you can achieve more through understanding how sharing works.

When you share anything on your website, social media or even advertisements, think about these 6 STEPPS and what you can change, tweak, add anything to, that would make it more shareable, talkable or emotional. So you can achieve the goals you are aiming for.

In the end, Tom Moore raised £32,795,065 for NHS charities.

Tom, we salute you, Sir.

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