A few weeks ago, I gave my “almost” last word on Jeremy Lin and #Linsanity, focusing on some of what the phenomenon told us about the state of social marketing. So now that Lin is probably out for the remainder of the season, I thought it would be a great time to take a look back at some of the wackier #linsanity stories, and consider a little more about what the story tells us about social media and how we can use it.
First off, let me say that as a Knick fan of many decades, (ever since the magic season of Willis Reed and the Iron Men) I was thrilled to see Lin emerge just when another Knick season seemed hopeless. As Will Leitch wrote in New York Magazine “Requiem for a Lin”
For those loopy, ascendant two weeks — and it was essentially a fortnight, starting on February 4 against New Jersey and peaking with that February 19 win over Dallas on national television — we had everything you could possibly want from an athletic endeavor. We had the “new”: A scrappy kid coming out of nowhere. We had the “underdog”: Ignored, undrafted, and left for dead in the D-League, Lin was proof that talent can be found (and missed) anywhere. We had the “inspiration”: An Asian-American kid succeeding on his own terms in the grandest possible way. We had the “giddy novelty”: He went to Harvard … and did you see that pregame handshake?
Lin was special. And it made us all feel special. It made us all feel lucky to get to watch it.
And again, I think that was what gave the social marketing push. It wasn’t just that he had a great run, it was that it was so unexpected, so fresh, and so different. So everyone had their takes on it, or used it to make their points. From management consultants telling us to emulate Lin’s traits for our career, to Dr. Ruth telling us to emulate Lin’s basketball style in the bedroom. Perhaps my favorite is Larry Wilmore’s Lin-grown toenail rant on the Daily Show
So, all fun and games aside – what does this tell you about how to use social media for your career or your business? Not as much as some people would like you to believe. Remember, #Linsanity was unexpected. The marketing officials at MSG (owners of the Knicks) weren’t ready for it. They didn’t have Lin jerseys or other paraphernalia ready to sell.
Lesson 1 – Don’t be surprised if social moves faster than you do. Events move faster than ever – Sometimes you just have to go with the flow as best as you can.
Lesson 2. If it is a big social media phenomenon everyone will put their own spin on it. From Dr. Ruth to marketing consultants (yes, including me) – people will use the bandwagon to advance their own agendas
Lesson 3 – For most of us, social success is not overnight fame, but long, slow building from the foundation up