So you think you can Social Media?

photo by Greg Beadle

photo by Greg Beadle © 2008 –

The latest season of So You Think You Can Dance prompted me to compare certain elements about making a career in dance with making it in Social Media (SM).

Yeah, may be a bit of a stretch. But hear me out. Here are some thoughts:

Choreography to SM Skill
Choreography is complex work. Not only does it require predisposition to visceral processing and interpretation, but also an innate musicality that guides the creation of movement within three-dimensional parameters. Choreographers are masters of multi-tasking.

Choreographic skills remind me of social media skills. Building a sustainable social media network starts with effectively defining, communicating and promoting your core expertise or sets of expertise. Having multiple skills affords broad creative licence and influence when manoeuvring through diverse social networks.

Anybody can be a ‘social media dancer’ but those with tangible gains make it to the upper echelons and are recognized for their innovative approach and insight, much like choreographic talent.

Injuries to SM Disasters
Dancers are a unique breed of artists. Most have impeccable discipline and resolve, possessing a higher threshold for enduring pain, along with resilience and focus in the face of numerous rehearsals and performances.

Injuries can quickly shorten a dancer’s career the same way social media disasters can unexpectedly happen to an individual (tweeting one’s way to getting fired) or to a brand (backlash over a failed campaign or inadvertent offence taken by dedicated brand users and advocates).

Dealing with these ‘social media injuries’ involves sucking it up and doing damage control in a timely manner. Those with higher pain thresholds and waste no time with a plan of action to win back trust and credibility are more likely to succeed at managing their reputation’s staying power and performance.

Physics to SM Metrics
Kenneth Laws
, Professor Emeritus of Physics at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, noted, “Physics and dance represent remarkably complementary approaches to human body movement – the scientific approach of classical mechanics, and the aesthetic approach of the popular art form of dance. “

So dance movements are quantifiable by the laws of physics: an example of the fascinating symbiotic relationship between art and science.  Further sources on this:

Physics of Dance

Physics of Ballet Dancing

Physics and Dance

If dance movements can be measured by the principles of velocity, momentum and force, different equations can explain how certain cool dance moves are possible.

Couldn’t the same be said of the elusive ROI metrics that social media continues to grapple with?

Some suggest the notion of measuring social media is not entirely representative of the real value offered by successful, collaborative behaviours through social networking.

What if we can accurately quantify social media metrics the way dance can be quantified by physics? It’d be like seeing ROI after all the duets, solos and ensemble pieces have been performed and then finding out who wins (by popular vote).

About dance
A long time ago, I gave serious thought, time and effort to dance. So I studied and trained with amazing teachers, including @debwontheroad, and eventually built it into my workout routine. I’m passionate about dance and continue to take classes. Both the art form and the exercise are phenomenal.

11 thoughts on “So you think you can Social Media?

  1. The ability to have the right floor feeling and the capability to sense where to go in the next second is essential to dance – and to being social. I like the pictures that your comparison between social media and dance create. And social media is a party, isn’t it? Where we want to dance!

  2. This is a fantastic article! I think you have hit on an area of academic study that could have major implications for communications and business. Community building and community management seem to me to have a lot of similarity to management roles in theater, dance, music, or sport. Wouldn’t it be interesting to be able to develop set plays, moves, or routines that have predictable outcomes? How about documenting interactions with scripting languages such as Labanotation or even Xs and Os? Way to go! I think you’re really on to something.

  3. Great post! Nothing like a little analogy to set your direction. I especially enjoyed the points on Injuries to SM Disasters (I have seen too much of this alone).

  4. Wow you guys rock. Thanks so much for the positive feedback. As I was saying to Dave (@spurdave) it is entirely possible to have your cake and it too when considering different angles of a phenomenon (such as social media) by injecting creativity in the thought process. This is, after all, what marketing communications is about. I am often prone to searching and drawing parallels that showcase the unique symbiotic relationship between the arts and science. This piece is a bit of a tribute to that.

  5. Autom, what I like about this post is you seem to think like me, which is, analogically. Drawing a comparison to two seemingly disparate fields is a great exercise in itself! I’m not a dancer but I’ve thought about the connection between dance and a lot of things before. As a social media freelancer, I’m slowly connecting to the idea. This one takes some contemplation. But I believe social media is unique in that attention to the parts and the whole must coexist for success to take place.


  6. This is fab. It’s reminding me of the parrallels with sociologist Irving Goffmans work Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. Goffman used the analogy of theatre, which I have often thought about with social media (eg impression management, front stage tweets, backstage comments) etc. I like it. Thanks!

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