It all started with a crazy idea.
In May of 2014, we had been working on building a culture of health and wellness at Kaiser Permanente. My department, Healthy Workforce, Kaiser’s internal wellness program, had launched national initiatives earlier that year to bring Kaiser Permanente’s “thrive” campaign to its workforce. It all changed in an instant when someone said, “let’s do a massive flash mob!”
The idea was to coordinate a week-long flash mob across 7 geographical regions of Kaiser Permanente (Georgia, Mid Atlantic States, Northwest, Hawaii, Colorado, and Northern/Southern California) outreaching to over 150,000 Kaiser employees.
As we began planning the event, things began to come together. We would use a program called “Instant Recess”, created by Dr. Toni Yancey from UCLA, that our employees were already familiar with. Instant Recess launched in 2012 at Kaiser Permanente and consists of 5-10 minutes of physical activity, usually set to music. It can be anything from dance moves, to sports moves, to “old school” recess activities like hop scotch or jump rope. The whole idea was just to get people moving.
We had 3 objectives:
- Encourage employees to be more active and “thrive”
- Unify employees across all regions in a single initiative
- Further build the Kaiser brand externally
While our department has always been great at the health promotion piece, objectives 2 and 3 were a little outside of our comfort zone as far as how to even approach it. Then we thought of Twitter.
Twitter opened the doors to unifying our employees in a week-long flash mob, no matter where they were, and would further build our Kaiser Permanente brand.
As mentioned in Here Comes Everybody, “Twitter allows a combination of real-time and group coordination that helps tip the balance of action” (Shirky, 2008) Twitter reduced our “transaction costs” of coordinating and highlighting this initiative. It also allowed our employees to be the “owners” of the initiative.
So what happened?
During the week of August 4-8, 2014, thousands of employees participated in Instant Recess week and the results were inspiring.
Over 400 Tweets and 1,000 Retweets/Mentions reached over 300,000 Twitter accounts. Everyone seemed to be tweeting: employees, the Instant Recess organization, unions, and partner organizations about the mega flash mob happening across Kaiser Permanente. It was Tweeting pandemonium!
Here is a gallery of some of my favorite tweets from our Instant Recess week:
What I learned
- Even the wildest ideas are possible, especially with social media.
- Twitter gave us the perfect platform to “inspire action and reaction.” (Mansfield, 2012)
- Twitter cost nothing, but gave so much in return.
This all worked because we tried something new. Twitter proved to be the best microblogging platform that would share real-time collective action to movement and “thriving”.
With that said, we are now well into 2015. So keep your eyes and ears open for another flash mob week at Kaiser Permanente coming soon…
Mansfield, H. (2012) A How-To Guide for Nonprofits: Social Media for Social Good, McGraw Hill, New York, NY.
Shirky, C. (2008) Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing without Organization, Penguin Press, New York, NY.