High speed, sudden impact. That's what most companies want. Huge followings within weeks. It's not hard to achieve, in fact, it's becoming quite common. Just do something unusual or something that sparks a strong emotional reaction.
But the impact doesn't last. Once the issue fades, the audience dissipates. That amazing sense of community people in Egypt feel today, will be gone in a few weeks. They came out in force because against an issue, not for each other. The difference is huge.
You see this every day, both online and offline. Thousands, perhaps millions, rally to an issue. The issue is resolved and the audience dissipates. Issues, in the singular, are fine if you just want a short blip of attention.
But it's difficult to repeat the same trick twice. It's not as exciting the second time. You need increasingly bigger issues or your audience gets bored. It's not sustainable.
Don't ever mistake uprisings for communities. It's almost the opposite. Communities are brought together by interests, not issues. They have relationships with each other. They don't appear, nor vanish, overnight. They are the collective establishment of trust over a period of history.
Communtiies will never get the headlines that uprisings do, but they'll still be around in 5 years time.
You, and every other company, has a big decision to make. Do you want a sharp, sudden, spike in interest? Do you want a big following? Do you need to boost sales? Generate huge interest in a future product? Then go for the uprising.
Or do you want to steadily build an increasingly valuable asset? An asset that will be going strong 5 years from now? Do you want to do more for existing customers, generate great feedback and reduce your marketing expenditure?
Do you want an uprising or a community? Do you run with emotive issues or deeply-held interests? Do you plan for the short-term or long term? The decision you make between uprising and community changes everything.
I promise you will be disappointed if you confuse the two.
p.s. Non-profits have more to learn from this than any other organizations I've worked with.