By now I am sure you have heard about the Darth Vader selfie story that has been making its way around the interwebs since early May.
If you haven’t, it just goes to show how quickly something can be picked up on social media, regardless if the facts are accurate, and then dropped once it cools down.
The Coles notes version of the story is summarized by Mashable:
“The whole debacle began innocently enough with a dad taking a ‘daggy’ selfie of himself with a Darth Vader cut-out on Wednesday at a Melbourne shopping centre.”
“It was his first selfie, and he planned to send it to his children who are Star Wars fans. There happened to be some children nearby, who he spoke to — simply saying he wouldn’t be a moment if they also wanted to take a photo.”
“The mother of the children saw the man talking to them, took his photo and posted it on her Facebook account, calling him a ‘creep.’ In the hours that followed, the post quickly started to travel around the Internet, and he became the target of vile Facebook trolls.”
Now the mother is begging for forgiveness for making a huge mistake.
To get the full story, check on How a Darth Vader selfie showed the worst side of social media.
WWDVD – What Would Darth Vader Do?
This got me thinking about how a fictional character, like Darth, would use social media.
How would Darth Vader use social media? What strategies would he use? What could a character like Darth Vader teach us about our social media strategy?
It turns out he can teach us a lot more than we think. Let’s start with what we know about Darth and what his shortcomings can teach us.
He Has Identity Issues
One of the keys to social media success is having a strong and consistent identity across all your social media profiles. Identity is something Vader struggled with and is not one of his strong points.
“Any Star Wars fan would recognize Skywalker’s identity issues and uncertainty about who he was. His fateful turn to the dark side and change of name to Darth Vader could represent the ultimate sign of such identity disturbance,” says Jeremy Hsu in The Psychology of Darth Vader Revealed.
People like strong brands that are consistent with their messaging, voice, engagement and with how they interact online.
He Was “Seduced” by the Dark Side
While it’s tempting, you need to avoid being seduced by the dark side. Vader gave in, and it ultimately led to his demise. It could also lead to yours if you cut corners and give in to quick fixes and shady tactics.
While Vader would probably use most of these tactics to his advantage, you need avoid these black hat social media strategies:
- Hiring click farms and buying followers
- Selling or sharing your users’ information without permission
- Creating fake accounts
- Hashtag hijacking
- Writing fake reviews about your company and writing fake negative reviews about competitors to gain an edge
- Focusing primarily on selling
- Focusing on yourself and self-promotion rather than your users’ needs, wants, and interests
As Vader said, “You underestimate the power of the dark side. Don’t give in to the temptation.”
Being impulsive can get you in trouble and create a negative backlash against you.
“Darth Vader showed both impulsivity and anger management issues as an overexcited, lovelorn Jedi. He went back and forth between idealizing and devaluing Jedi mentors, such as a humorless young Obi-Wan Kenobi,” says Hsu.
Let’s just say that if Vader had Twitter, you could expect a fair amount of rants, reactionary tweets and angry comments, but it would definitely be entertaining!
Avoiding acting on impulse is particularly important when someone writes something negative about your company. Don’t tweet or respond to criticism when you’re angry. Collect your thoughts, allow for time to cool off and respond in a professional manner.
Don’t say something you will regret. Even if you delete it, that post will still exist somewhere online.
He’s Good at Keeping Secrets
We all know that Vader was good at keeping secrets, and he held on to a few big ones until the very end. It’s safe to say that Vader would probably have very few details in his profile and be guarded about what he would post and share.
Keeping secrets is definitely not something you want to do on social media. Getting caught holding back information or doing something suspicious can land you in hot water with your followers and create a huge backlash. It’s important to maintain transparency and be upfront with your users. This will help you build good relationships and a good reputation online.
Vader is one of the most quotable characters ever. Any Star Wars fan will have no trouble reciting some of these famous quotes, but many may not realize the applicability to social media:
“You have only begun to discover your power.”
With power comes great responsibility. People who are new to social media rarely understand the power and opportunity it presents, especially if you commit to a long term plan to develop your brand. Over time, your power, influence, and reach will grow when you let things evolve organically and build trusting relationships with your users.
“I am altering the deal, pray I do not alter it any further…”
Vader famously used fear to bend the terms of his agreement with Lando. Bending the terms and conditions of agreement with your customers and social media connections can and will hurt your brand. People don’t react well to fear today.
“I find your lack of faith disturbing.”
Many companies still have a lack of faith in social media and see it as a time waster rather than a productive and lucrative marketing tool.
“The typical reason companies block access to social media sites is a concern regarding the negative impact on productivity access will have. Let me be blunt – social media doesn’t kill productivity. Bad employees do,” says Joel Marans.
To get the most out of your social media strategy, companies need to have a strong social media policy, set social media guidelines, and understand that employee buy-in can help your social media efforts blossom.
“It’s up to management to hold employees accountable to their actions – and to role model how to use social media effectively. Smart organizations encourage and trust their employees to use social media responsibly. Smart organizations also have simple to understand social media guidelines in place to make sure that while employees feel empowered to use the tools they want, they do so in a responsible fashion,” Marans adds.
“You may dispense with the pleasantries, Commander.”
As stated in Return of the Jedi, Vader shows that he is not one for chit chat and has a strict attitude toward managing his fleet. Vader would probably not be interested in participating in conversations or strategies that do little to boost business. Things like #FollowFriday, #ThrowBackThursday, immediately come to mind.
While these can be fun, it’s important to focus on the bigger picture and understand where and when to interact with others on social media.
Dark Vader Lives…On Twitter….Well, Sort Of….
So, what is Darth Vader up to these days? It appears he spends his days trolling people on Twitter. And it looks like he is doing pretty good for himself. He has 419,000 followers! Impressive.
It also looks like he has developed a sense of humor:
He’s Definitely a Yankees Fan!
— Darth Vader (@darthvader) May 5, 2015
Darth Loves a Good Party
Celebrating Sitho de Mayo w/ the 501st today by blowing up a small rebel enclave. I love a good party. #RevengeOfTheFifth
— Darth Vader (@darthvader) May 5, 2015
Mother’s Day Is Tough for His Family
Awkward day with the kids. #HappyMothersDay
— Darth Vader (@darthvader) May 11, 2014
He Has a Self-deprecating Sense of Humor
— Darth Vader (@darthvader) April 18, 2015
— Darth Vader (@darthvader) October 7, 2014
Darth Vader can teach you a lot about your social media strategy. If you pretty much do the opposite of what he would do, then you will be on the right track. Vader’s shortcomings are common with many social media users.
Don’t be seduced by the dark side of social media. Even though there is a strong temptation, you need to remain strong and focus on doing things the right way to get the results you expect.
May the force be with you!Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community