In Imitation of a Reverse Letter ’S’
Good ideas, they say, are as rare as ‘rocking horse shit’ or ‘hen’s teeth’ – depending on which end of the animal you feel most comfortable with.
Perhaps that’s why creative people are always advised to look outside of their chosen industry when searching for the coveted ‘Big Idea’.
And who better to seek counsel from than the late, great music supremo, Malcolm McLaren.
McLaren himself was often criticised for making British Popular Culture into ‘nothing more than a cheap marketing gimmick’, but his passion for creativity was second to none. Sex Pistols aside, the remainder of his career saw him behind the scenes bringing hip-hop to the attention of an international audience, and orchestrating a series of divine aural concoctions – including an album fusing his love of opera with 80s pop music.
Consider his 1989 hit, Waltz Darling – taken from the album of the same name.
Allegorical as they are, McLaren’s conclusive maxims on dance floor etiquette can be also read as a guide for best practice for brands looking to gain share of voice across the online media landscape:
‘Never put your hands on a man except in dancing,
Whispering, giggling at the same time have no place in good society,
Don’t think you can be rude to anyone and escape,
Whispering is always rude,
Don’t hang on to anyone for support,
Don’t stand or walk with your chest held in and your hips forward,
In imitation of a reverse letter S’.
Looking at each of the above lines in isolation, McLaren’s words strongly resonate with a good deal of the do’s and don’ts of social media marketing:
* Don’t do anything that could be deemed inappropriate – unless the occasion condones it.
Follow the examples set by others, operate by the rules set by the community concerned.
* In-jokes, underhanded conversations that mean little to anyone outside of a small group excludes others, and is bad practice when looking to gauge Twitter followers or Facebook fans. Content should be straightforward, accessible and inclusive.
* Being rude to anyone on a social media platform is a huge mistake. Not only can it impact on how a brand is perceived, it can have wider implications when others get wind of it and subsequently lend their support to the injured party.The fact all faux pas are recorded online means insults can stick around like a bad smell.
* Tagging your brand onto the coattails of others should be avoided. What matters is authenticity. Brands looking to forge a new identity among consumers via social media need to build it from the bottom up. Only then can marketers ensure they’ve created a genuine grass roots following and a unique platform that serves the needs of both the brand and its fans.
* Posturing and positioning are key. This means no slacking off. Once a branded community has set a precedent, members expect a certain level of regular engagement.
All things considered, as tenuous as these comparisons may appear, it stands to reason that concepts which may seem unrelated can be appropriated to suit any agenda. That’s the real creative challenge – making connections between different ideas to serve a singular purpose.
Next week – the opportunity inherent in Augmented Reality location-based systems, as perceived through a re-reading of Knut Hamsun’s Hunger.