Let the Wookie Win – Social Media Lessons from Star Wars: A New Hope

image from Star Wars: A New Hope 

Aboard Han Solo’s famous ship, The Millennium Falcon, R2-D2 is on the verge of besting Chewbacca in a board game when C-3P0 delivers the advice: “Let the Wookie win.” Though the droid possesses superior intelligence, the larger, more menacing, and decidedly shaggier Wookie has game-deciding power.

If you adhere to the lessons revealed in the movie Star Wars: A New Hope, you need not follow 3P0’s advice when it comes to marketing in the daunting social media space.

“Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope”

With her back against the wall after Imperial forces invade the Rebel Alliance ship, Princess Leia records this simple phrase into R2-D2 shortly before the droid makes his escape to Tatooine. Her message captivates Luke Skywalker so much that it sets him on his search for Obi-Wan and his journey to become a Jedi Knight.

Like Princess Leia, the key to social media marketing is not just finding your audience with the right message but engaging them such that they will participate in your quest. Rather than one-way communications like TV commercials (which seem from a time long ago and far, far away…), social media allows for games, contests, polls and discussions that can engage and captivate your audience. Don’t settle for simple informational ads.

“These aren’t the droids you’re looking for”

By employing the “Jedi mind trick,” Obi-Wan easily persuades a storm trooper to cease his interrogation and let Luke pass by an Empire checkpoint. While you may not have the power of the Force behind your social media marketing, you can deploy the principles of persuasive design in your ads, on your website, and in other material intended to motivate your audience.

Reciprocity, scarcity, authority, commitment, likeability, and social proof are among the persuasive design principles you should employ to add force your social media marketing efforts.

“He doesn’t like you…I don’t like you either!”

Something about Luke’s presence in Tatooine’s Cantina bothers the pig-nosed man and his alien friend to the point where they let the young Jedi know. While it’s unclear what they don’t particularly like about Luke, there are measures you can take to make sure your social media presence doesn’t put you on the bad side of people who “have the death sentence on twelve systems.”

For example, statistics show that Facebook users are put off by a hard sell in what is essentially a social context. Don’t be the guy trying to sell life insurance at the dinner party. Always work to engage your audience within the accepted norms of whatever social medium you are using or risk sticking out and becoming unwanted.

“Stay on target, stay on target…”

In the movie’s final conflict, Rebel starships speed across the Death Star to their carefully chosen target, the thermal exhaust port. Photon torpedoes loaded, the pilots remain focused on their mission, despite mounting Imperial resistance.

Similarly, you should set specific targets for your social media marketing, stay focused on achieving them, and measure their effectiveness with any of a variety of emerging tools designed for that purpose. Strive to measure engagement, such as how many comments you status updates generate, rather than simply counting your “Likes” or followers.

“Use the Force, Luke”

At the deciding moment and at the prompting of Obi-Wan, Luke is able to tap into the Force, a greater collective consciousness that heightens his abilities and effectiveness, to win the day.

As with the Force, companies can go over to the dark side with their social media messages – obscure truths, hide fine print, or ultimately fail to genuinely connect with their audience. These folks are quickly exposed and excoriated on social sites.  A similar fate befalls those who attempt to hide from, obscure, or cover up service issues.

Using the Force of social media involves more than employing ethical business, however. It entails creating authenticity and legitimacy in your message, sharing ideas and insights, and revealing the personality of your business in ways that engage customers and prospects.

DKNYPRGirl has generated an enormous Twitter following by posting insider information on fashion to women who wish to know more about style trends and DKNY’s inner workings. By successfully engaging its audience, the company has created a forceful social-media personality.

And so . . .

By learning the lessons of Star Wars: A New Hope, you can create your own game-deciding power as social-media marketers. And perhaps you won’t have to let the Wookie win.

Do you have a favorite scene in A New Hope that teaches a social media lesson? Let me know in a comment below.

Image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

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