It's a conflict and achievement many health marketers can appreciate when it comes to social media. And one dancer's experience, in particular, underscored both the contrast and the reward.
Although he was subsequently injured and is out for the season, Alex Wong did not bow out of the competition before leaving an indelible mark. A year after not being permitted to move on in the show because of his contractual obligations with the Miami City Ballet, Alex routinely showed himself to be a powerful and skillful dancer.
But a question remained: could the ballet master crack the nut that is hip-hop?
In partnering with dancer tWitch for the show's first-ever male-male duo, not only did Alex master the free-flowing moves that so many street dancers exhibit with ease, his routine to the apropos "Get Outta Your Mind" by Lil Jon featuring LMFAO garnered the most explosive ovation the show's ever seen.
All of this, while super-entertaining for a hip-hop fan like myself, had me thinking about the many organizations in health marketing that aren't accustomed to "getting down" and changing their ways of doing things to connect with a larger, younger audience via tools like social media.
While the judges didn't mention these points during their slack-jawed praise, there were a few key reasons why a traditional ballet guy like Alex was able to pull it off that can be applied to an organization's fledgling social media approach.
Obviously, Alex Wong would not have gotten to his position with the Miami City Ballet or on the Fox program without immense talent. Similarly, there are some vital skills sets that help make for a good social media presence. An ability to write clearly and efficiently is a good start. Multimedia skills are a plus, too. But those are basics. Real stars in this space have the ability to communicate with internal teams, get around or break down barriers between groups, and get top-level management to not just buy in, but actively support social media initiatives.
This might have been the hardest part for Alex to master, given his ballet background. The struggle was evident during rehearsals. "The voices in my head are like 'Posture!' and the other one is like 'Get down! Get down!'" But when he embraced this new approach, the audience embraced him many times over. The same is true for social media. By taking a fresh look at your marketing messages, and evaluating every aspect of them for how they could or should be used in places like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Flickr and others, you can ensure that what is being sent through to those channels doesn't come off as something simply cobbled together to "flood the zone."
As mentioned earlier, Alex Wong had to fight through his own bureaucratic battle just to make it to this season. In many instances, social media champions within an organization are likely to meet with initial resistance. Getting through that can sometimes be as simple as waiting out others who are leery and keeping them apprised of increases in social media usage globally as well as within your own industry. As with many other aspects of life, persistence pays.
Among my favorite aspects to Alex's experience was watching the intensity with which he listened to the choreographers during rehearsal. They would say things like, "The hard part is getting out of your safe zone," or "Think of this like a plié." These insights helped guide Alex on his journey from proper ballet dancer to cross-over success.
For internal social media champions, listening is also key. But while we often espouse listening to the external audience as a holy grail, we sometimes shut down those same skills during internal meetings. Instead, being able to listen closely to the vernacular of those you are trying to convert, and then contouring your message to them in a way they can relate to can go a long way to cultivating internal champions.