James Cameron’s Avatar has touched a nerve in our collective psyche. Much in the same vein, Social Media has exploded into our digital world, changing the landscape on how we think, react and do business.
What does Avatar and Social Media have in common? They are both brave new worlds that have captured our imagination and have connected us to each other. In a world gone wild with war, natural disasters and the human condition, we all yearn for a place (real or digital) that will give us meaning and a way to express our individuality and our humanity.
Our Primal Need
One of the most striking comparisons of Avatar and Social Media was the interconnectivity of the Na’vi to their natural habitat and to each other. Their umbilicus was a synaptic nerve cord emanating from their head in the form of a long pony tail. When physically connected to another life form, they had pure communication of thoughts and emotions, and could have a symbiotic influence on each other. Social Media networking is fulfilling that primordial need to be connected, to make our presence felt and have the ability to influence and be influenced. In essence, make our voice or vote count. We are not living and breathing avatars, but our digital networking is connecting our avatar to yours.
A modern day analogy happened in the 1960s when the youth felt disenfranchised from our society and found meaning in the proverbial “love-ins.” As the beat poet of that generation, Jerry Rubin, so eloquently noted, “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” Those words resonated around the globe. The youth were connected through rock n roll, the Beatles, the Vietnam War, and flower power. They influenced generations and these baby boomers are still a force today.
The Bonds that Influence Us
Trust is another comparison worth noting between the Movie and Social Media. It is the glue that holds both systems together. The hero in Avatar, Jake Sully, needed to understand the rules, the customs and learn how to move in an alien world. He needed to gain the trust of the Na’vi, not just live amongst them as a intelligence gathering project. But something happened once he truly felt engaged with his mentor and love-interest, he changed and the world changed with him. Social Media has its rules of engagement and if you are to be successful you need to understand that the process takes time. Watch, learn and build trust. Be a part of an online community and actively participate.
The effectiveness of Social Media is in building relationships, making your presence felt in positive non-exploitative ways. Establish your brand of influence, offer content, suggestions, advice, reliability. In Avatar, the Sky People (aka humans) saw “gold” and wanted to mine it, regardless of the environmental impact. Bulldozing your way through the jungle with purely self-interest objectives is counter productive. Short term gains, long term angst.
Standing Ten Feet Tall and Blue
Social Media enhances your brand image and makes you stand out from your competition and be that 10 foot tall blue Avatar. Take the time to understand it, cultivate it and fall in love with it. Enjoy the experience.