sol4_lowres Each year, around this time, the buzz starts building. There are a couple of emails and then maybe a couple of messages via Twitter. Men across the country start twitching their noses and scratching their faces. Each of us wonder — “can I do it again”. But sure enough, come November 1, the signs are obvious.   

Days later, even a casual walk down the street will yield telltale signs. Five o’clock shadow yields to three day growth. Rough, sprouts give way to more a more fecund appearance … and the men, united in this cause, knowingly nod acknowledgement to each other. For during this month every year, we are no longer disengaged, disconnected or disinterested. We are all citizens of the Republic of Movember.

During November, two charities push to raise awareness around men’s health – prostate cancer and depression. Men across the country are encouraged to cleanly shave their faces and grow a moustache for charity. You can raise funds individually or as part of a team, with the funds raised going to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and BeyondBlue.

I have now been involved in Movember for the past three years. Not only do I believe in supporting these causes, I am a great fan of the strategic approach that the Movember team take to participation – for during this month I am not just “another guy growing a mo” – I am a “mo bro” (I have joined Jye’s team here). That’s right, I become part of a community (a republic no less), I join or establish a team, and I make an individual contribution to worthy causes. And importantly, it brings a sense of play and enjoyment into the world (something that I think is essential for the future of brands).

In recent weeks, we have seen a number of Australian brands begin seriously investigating social media (with mixed success). Causes such as Movember can be excellent vehicles for “humanising” your brands … and all you need to do is participate. How might this work?

Let’s take one of the country’s most notable moustached business leaders … Sol Trujillo. What sort of momentum and interest would Sol’s participation drive in Movember? How many Telstra employees would also register for the internal team? How much positive PR and buzz would this create? And how would this transform the way that YOU and the customers of Telstra think about Australia’s largest telco?

For brands wanting to engage with social media, the first step is to listen. The second is to participate. Is anyone listening? Is that a hand I see raised? I would love to think so.

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