What Ralphie could teach you about Social Media.
Funny how a scene from a movie set in the 1930s can help provide a lesson for audience engagement in the 21st century.
This 2½ minute scene from Jean Shepard’s classic holiday film “A Christmas Story” provides a great example of how a “worst practice” can kill a community of followers.
Nine-year-old Ralphie is a devoted follower of the “Little Orphan Annie Radio Hour,” and listens to the program religiously. In an effort to build a community of dedicated followers, the program’s sponsor allowed kids to become “members” of a special club: “Annie’s Secret Circle.” Club members received an official-looking letter and a special decoder ring which allowed them to decipher coded messages that were broadcast at the end of each program.
Only Official Club Members with the official decoder ring could decipher these messages. Once you opted-in, you were part of a community of kids who also followed Little Orphan Annie and her adventures. You could identify fellow members by the ring they proudly wore. Suddenly, you had a connection to kids you didn’t even know through membership and shared allegiance to a radio show. Only this community had the ability to decipher Annie’s secret messages.
While this was a great way to build and engage a community, the sponsor ended up blowing it. As demonstrated in this scene, as Ralphie was decoding his first much anticipated secret message (hoping no doubt to discover the location of a hidden treasure or find a clue to next week’s adventure), he was let down to find the coded “messages” were no more than “lousy commercials” from the show’s sponsor, Ovaltine. In frustration, he threw his decoder ring away.
This scene dramatizes an important point in engaging your audience. Once you have a community, be sure the content you send them is relevant, useful and wanted. If your content becomes about “you” and not about “them,” you’ll see followers drop off and fall away, just as Ralphie did.
From a content standpoint, it always helps to be thinking in terms of the next engagement. Filter your content by asking, “Is what I’m about to send enough to get my followers to come back the next time?”
Posted by Mickey
- New Years, take 2008
- What Are Followers Worth, Anyway?
- Beating Down the Straw Man.
- The real lesson of the Burger King hack job.
- A mistake of Olympic proportions.