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Social Media Lessons from Harry Potter’s Deathly Hallows

November 30, 2010 - 1 Comment

I saw the new Harry Potter movie, The Deathly Hallows over the Thanksgiving break. I don’t want to spoil the movie for those who haven’t seen it yet or didn’t read the last book so if you are one of those people, be forewarned: just for fun and inspired by the movie, this blog post uncovers some lessons the 3 deathly hallows (ooops, did I just slip up and tell you there were 3?) can teach us, social media practitioners.

Ok, so the outcome for us won’t be as devastating as for the Peverell brothers but in order to continue to evolve in our practices, we should keep in mind the following lessons. 

1. Elder Wand. (a.k.a. Wand of Destiny). “The wand will never fully work for the new user unless he or she directly disarms, stuns or kills (even in Muggle fashion) the previous master. Rowling has stated that the wand is brutal in its choice of master, and that, whilst most wands have some allegiance to their own masters, the Elder Wand only responds to power.” 1  

Let’s look at the significance of the wand more closely and less literally. In order for the wand to keep working, each consecutive owner needs to be  stronger and/or wiser than the one before him or her to be able to come out on top. Yes, you can get lucky once or twice but it’s not sustainable long term. Over the course of centuries, each creature on the quest of obtaining the wand learned what had and hadn’t worked previously and had adjusted their strategy accordingly. In social media, this means a commitment to on-going learning, absorbing knowledge from our experiences and from others, and integrating it into our practices so that our social media wisdom can strengthen and grow over time. There are valuable lessons to be learned from what worked as well as what didn’t work. And there are lessons we can learn from our own journey and from others’ experiences. Bringing these lessons together will help increase our wisdom, hence power.

Apropos power. The Wand of Destiny responds to power instead of a specific master. Power is the “greater force” that stands above all. In social media, integration can be viewed as the “greater force”. Why? Because integrating social media into a higher purpose (a.k.a. our overall business objectives) and our other activities as appropriate, instead of managing it in isolation will help increase our effectiveness, and hence power. So don’t do social in a vacuum. Integrate.

2. Resurrection Stone. It “allows the holder to communicate with the dead. According to the fairy tale concerning the origin of the Deathly Hallows, using the Resurrection Stone drove its original owner, Cadmus Peverell, to commit suicide after seeing his deceased fiancée but being unable to be truly with her.” 2

This magical object is about communication. Figuratively speaking, the moral of the story is that inadequate communication can hinder our ability to reach our full potential or the full potential of our initiative. What does this mean in the world of social media? Social media communication can take place on 3 levels:

  1. Talking AT our customers: one-way broadcasting of our marketing messages
  2. Talking WITH our customers: two-way interactions in a “give and take” format
  3. Enabling our customer to talk AMONGST each other: becoming an enabler of inter-customer information exchange

A social practitioner’s ability to offer opportunities across these 3 spectrums (and more along the lines of b and c!) can help boost long-term success. Therefore, we need to encourage conversations. The goal should be enablement, not control.

Now let’s take this thought one step further and assume there’s a healthy amount of dialog going on between us and our customers, and among our customers. The next stop is to take these conversations, classify and prioritize them, and do something with them. Practitioners should be prepared to act upon new opportunities and/or address challenges they may uncover in social media.

3. Cloak of Invisibility. “…a “true” cloak of invisibility: other cloaks will lose their ability to conceal the wearer over time or become worn out, but the Hallow cloak will never fade or become damaged…. the Cloak’s true magic is that it can shield and protect others as well as its owner.“ 3

Two gems are hidden in this description. The first one is to know when to put on and take off the cloak and how to use it wisely. In social media, this means knowing when and how to move between online and offline conversations. We may start a conversation online which at some point may need to be transferred off the Internet to help move it along the sales or activity funnel. And there may be times we decide to continue an offline conversation on the web. Regardless of the place of engagement, a positive customer experience at every point in the funnel is important. The quality of the experience does matter….on- and offline.      

The second takeaway is related to people and doing things together. There is room under the cloak for more than one person. On his many journeys, Harry shares it with his buddies, Ron and Hermione. In the spirit of camaraderie and “two heads are better than one”, they travel together under the protection of the cloak. And the more they do so, the easier they can get around and the more mysteries they are able to solve. In social media this means that the more you practice engagement as a team, the more you will collectively “get it” and the more natural it will feel (especially for digital immigrants). Therefore, social media engagement can become more manageable and successful in the long run if a team of subject matter experts, social media managers and other necessary functions all chip in and participate, bringing their respective areas of expertise to the table….on- and offline. So engage as a team.

What lessons did The Deathly Hallows teach you and why?

1, 2, 3 Source:

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  1. Superb post! Very informative as always!