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How Social Media is Like Blue Man Group

- October 1, 2009 - 2 Comments

Blue Man Group

On a recent trip to Las Vegas – my first ever non-work related trip to Vegas – I was able to catch a few shows – Yes, the first shows I’ve ever seen in Vegas. One of those shows was Blue Man Group . It was fantastic!

In case you’re not familiar with Blue Man Group, they are a performance art troupe and marketing machine. Their shows combine vaudeville-style physical comedy with art, social commentary, and lots of odd and entertaining audience participation moments, all without the Blue Men actually speaking a single word.

Something struck me about the Blue Man Group show and got me thinking about how some of the characteristics of social media are evident in how the Blue Man Group show is structured. (OK… I know… You can take the girl out of the work environment, but you just can’t take the work out of the girl).

So here’s my take on how social media is like Blue Man Group:

Participation & Interactivity – Social media tools inherently encourage participation and feedback from anyone who is interested, effectively blurring the lines between media and audience.

Audience participation is required to make the Blue Man Group show successful. Right from the start, the audience is part of the show, from reading “Happy Birthday” out loud as a group (you had to be there), to individual and group participation in specific skits, the show would not be as effective without audience input.

Conversation – Social media facilitates conversation. Conversations allow us to develop relationships. It’s dialogue, a two-way interaction where both parties are actively engaged.

Blue men don’t talk, so how can there be a conversation? Human communication is made up of three parts: verbal communication = 7%, visual communication or body language = 55% and vocal communication (pitch, tone of voice, speed and volume) = 38%. Frankly, blue men are masters of body language and facial expressions. It’s easy to interpret the gestures between the blue men and the blue men and the audience. At some points in the show, you are observing a dialogue between the blue men characters and at others you are actively engaged. The “twinkie-fest” skit is a good example of how an audience member integrates themselves into the show simply by interpreting the gestures and facial expressions of the Blue Man Group.

Community – Social media allows people to quickly and easily form communities around a common interest.

The “poncho zone” at the Blue Man Group show is it’s own community. I know I was there. The poncho zone is basically the danger zone; the seats in the first few rows that are likely to get hit with the various paint, water, Captain Crunch cereal and other flotsam and jetsam coming from the stage. People in this zone talk more with one another during the show, help each other with their ponchos, unbury their neighbors from the piles of ribbon being passed forward from the back of the theater among other things. These are experiences unique to those seated in the poncho zone.

Connectedness – The basis of social media is the concept of connectedness. You can connect with other people, resources, information, web sites and more. Without the ability and the action of connecting social media doesn’t help you get anywhere.

At the start of a Blue Man Group show, two or three audience members are selected for some special attention. It may be someone’s birthday. It may be someone is retiring and the show is part of their good-bye celebration. It may be that you a minor celebrity in the audience. Blue Man Group immediately singles out these people and connects the larger audience to them by instructing the audience to “speak happy birthday” or read congratulatory and thank you messages to them. These small acts immediately bonds the larger audience together  an important element throughout the show.

The point is that characteristics of social media are similar if not the same as those that govern our interactions in the real world. Don’t treat social media as a separate entity to your overall marketing strategy. It’s an extension of what you already do.

This post is also a testament to the fact that you can find inspiration just about anywhere.

No blue men were harmed in the creation of this blog post.

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  1. I think you have hit the nail on the head - experts can talk all day long about what social media *is* but really, it's just interacting well with the community you are or want to be part of.

  2. Strange funny group :)