Avatar The Movie And Social Media Marketing
For those of you scratching your heads, wondering what the epic Avatar has anything to do with social media marketing, here’s two words: a lot.
Make that three words: a hell lot.
- Like Pandora, social media is an unknown, unexplored world
On Pandora humans cannot breathe without special equipment. The terrain is different. While humans are used to mountains firmly stuck to the earth, Pandora has them swinging in mid-air from vines, if you may. The language of the Na’vis is unfamiliar. Ditto with social media. Its a space we’re new to , just getting started and learning a little more everyday. Social media exists in a different world than we’re used to. The ‘language’ used by social media natives is unique too. Traditional marketers are accustomed to an entirely different way of communicating.
- Every community has its rules
Pandora’s Na’vis have their own customs. There is an unspoken protocol of connecting with others that only comes with being a genuine part of the community. Jake Sully thought he’d go right in, do some high-level intelligence, come out and know the insider details. Problem is being superfluous means you stand out, like an alien. The world of social media also has its own unspoken protocol and customs about connecting. Being a trusted member takes time. one needs to feel the ropes, listen, participate and slowly make inroads into the community. Trust, is big in both worlds.
- Real bonding takes time
Jake had three months (and a beautiful mentor, but never mind that) to develop a rapport with the natives, to know and understand them, their ways. During this time, he observes the ways of the Na’vis, from the language to the taming of the banshees. There’s a phrase they use for that: I see you. It means that I acknowledge who you are, your spirit, your being. Social media operates along the same lines. The acknowledgement is important that your consumers are real people and not just figures. Seth Godin pointed out in a blogpost recently why social media is difficult for organizations: because its a process, not an event. Orientation into a new world is a process. Learning is a process. Listening is a process. Participating is a process. Social media is useless if brands want to come in, exploit the space and bail.
- Exploitation will bring a backlash
Perhaps Avatar’s biggest lesson for marketers is not to rush in with bulldozers (read broadcasting material) in social media. Col. Quatrich/Sky People/The Humans/The Outsiders had a plan. Attack, plunder and exit. Some brands look at social media in the exact same way. Identify potential channels for blasting your message, exploit them to the fullest and leave. Real engagement? What is that? Well brands have and will continue to suffer with that mind-set. Motrin suffered, Chetan Bhagat suffered, Skoda (India) suffered. I’m guessing in each case, the damage done was unintentional but it happened because they didn’t bother understanding the community’s ways well enough.
Ok so all said and done, what can brands do to understand the ways of the social media world? I’m providing two useful links here for starters:
99 Social Media Failures (this one’s funny)
Building a social media presence is going to be inevitable for brands. Might as well do it right, I say.
On an altogether different note, Avatar is stellar and true work of art. I’m going to see it for the second time today. For those of you who haven’t seen it (this post must have read like c*** eh? lol) please watch it asap. Here’s the trailer to get you excited.
Image courtesy: Avatar’s official movie website
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