The glitz! The glamour! The pageantry! The spectacle!
Am I talking about professional wrestling…or social media?
Maybe a bit of both.
You see, there are huge similarities between the online world and the male-oriented athletic soap opera that you know you secretly still watch.
1) Characters – Oh, this can go in so many different directions! But let’s keep it simple. The best professional wrestling characters are extensions of the real people playing them. The Rock is Dwayne Johnson turned to “11.” (Bonus points for getting the reference!) In the social space, people “play” characters to some degree – but it’s mostly their own personality amplified.
2) Crowdsourcing – Imagine an arena filled with 20,000 people giving you instant feedback on everything you say or do. Reactions are instant, visceral and, to an extent, protected, since you are in a crowd. Imagine a world filled with billions of people giving you…yeah, you get the picture.
3) Merchandise – Wrestling fans buy t-shirts and other items to support their favorite star. Example: I’ve been considering purchasing WWE’s latest shirt for CM Punk, proclaiming he’s the “Best In The World.” These exist so you can see someone walking down the street and say, “Dude, I’m a Hulkamaniac, too, brother! Let’s be friends!” In the online space, the equivalent is hashtags and links. We try to associate with people and discussions that allow us to connect with new people and ideas.
4) Experts – Wrestling fans the inner-workings of the industry are called “smart;” those who still believe it’s real are called “marks.” Most fans are somewhere in the middle, or “smarks.” They enjoy the show and appreciate the performance, but don’t need to know the name of every move or how two wrestlers figure out what they want to do. How does this apply to social media? The people who make Facebook are “smart.” The people who use Facebook are “marks.” And if you are reading this website, you are probably a “smark.” You know how to maximize the networks and platforms, but you likely couldn’t code them into being.
5) Recovery – A long time ago, a wrestling company created a character called “The Shockmaster.” He wore a Stormtrooper helmet (yeah, like Star Wars…) and was built up on TV as being a big deal. But when he made his debut on live TV, he literally tripped and face-planted on the ground. That was pretty much the end of the The Shockmaster. Social media, however, allows us the ability to recover when we stumble. Be it Red Cross, Chrysler, Kenneth Cole or even Netflix, brands don’t have to disappear if something goes wrong. Maybe that’s a difference, not a similarity, but the video of The Shockmaster falling is hilarious.