7 social media lessons from Star Wars

Remind your social media resistant CEO that “Fear is the path to the dark side.”

Star Wars premiered in the United States 35 years ago. It was the beginning of what became a six-part story, set in space, of man and machine. As a story, it contains elements relevant to today’s social media connected world, which brings together men and women via machines.

Here are seven social media marketing lessons from Star Wars:

1. “You must unlearn what you have learned.” Yoda in “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back”

For many companies, social media requires unlearning many of the processes employees have already learned. As a communicator, it’s critical to get rid of the corporate-speak to sound like a real person.

Tip: Ensure your employees understand that they represent your brand on social media platforms. The language they use, the way they respond to customers, and how they look reflect on your brand. Train your staff to present your organization consistently when they engage on social media.

2. “I’m just a simple man, trying to make my way in the universe.” Jango Fett in “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones”

On social media platforms, everyone is part of the community and has something to contribute. Together, we create something bigger than any individual.

Tip: Contribute to the conversation, and become part of the community and smaller groups. Help others and pay it forward.

3. “I’m programmed for etiquette, not destruction!” C-3PO in “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones”

Mind your manners on social media platforms. Understand that others with whom you engage may not be native speakers of your language. Further, you don’t know what’s happening in other people’s lives. What you take as a sign that things are going well may be just the opposite—people may show a different public persona.

Tip: Give others the benefit of the doubt on social media platforms. If you feel emotional, step away from your computer. You may communicate something you’ll regret later. If you’re in trouble or need help, use another means of communication and ask for help.

4. “Who’s the more foolish: the fool, or the fool who follows him?” Obi-Wan Kenobi in “Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope”

On social media, determine who is worth listening to and following, and how they relate to your firm. Don’t follow someone because other people do, or because he has a large following. Examine what makes sense for your business.

Tip: Set measurable goals for your social media plans to ensure they yield business results. Don’t forget to incorporate a contextually relevant call-to-action, a unique trackable promotion code, and a streamlined purchase process.

5. “Fear is the path to the Dark Side.” Yoda in “Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace”

This quote epitomizes many businesses’ view of social media. Listening and engagement on social media should be positive by nature. You shouldn’t act out of fear or other negative emotions, because your communications will convey these feelings.

Social media is about the larger community, not your firm. The way to overcome your fear is to take the first step.

Tip: Listen to the conversation. Don’t use social media to promote your business. Your comments and contributions should help the larger community. Remember, social media isn’t another promotional platform.

6. “I’ve got a bad feeling about this.” Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones”

Many senior executives probably recite this line about social media. The reality is that prospects, customers and the public will say whatever they want about you and your organization whether you’re active on social media or in real life.

Tip: Be part of the social media conversation, engage with prospects and customers to determine what the issues are, and respond appropriately.

7. “Either shut him up or shut him down!” Han Solo in “Star Wars Episode V: Empire Strikes Back”

While many executives have these thoughts about vocal customers or firestorms on social media, it’s the opposite of what you can or should do. Instead, determine the customer’s issue and the influence he has, and respond appropriately as soon as you can.

Tip: Have a social media presence where your organization can engage with prospects, customers and the public. Ensure there’s a process for addressing and answering customer service issues that arise via these channels.

Have a crisis management plan ready in case your organization has an issue. Here’s what to do in a social media crisis.

Many organizations could utter these Star Wars quotes when it comes to integrating social media into the marketing mix. As professionals, we must give up control when we participate on social media to pay it forward and support the community.

What are your favorite Star Wars quotes, and how do they apply to social media?

May the force by with you.

Heidi Cohen is president of Riverside Marketing Strategies. Follow her on Twitter @heidicohen.

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