The George of the Jungle character was so behind his time that he was, in some ways a futurist. We’re not talking an Alvin Toffler futurist here, but whether you prefer the 1967 cartoon or the 1997 Brendon Fraser incarnation of the Tarzan parody character George, he and his friends can still teach you a lot about social media. (Sorry, the Cartoon Network version won’t teach you as much).
Engagement and listening are two very different things.
George’s “lady friend” Ursula knew this only too well. She could talk but George never fully processed what she was saying (unless it helped the script). Some hastily written social media posts are like this. You need to learn how to handle someone that you are trying to engage with, especially when it seems they’re pulling a “George”. Sometimes this may mean moving them to a phone call or an e-mail where the other person can better communicate. And yes, Ursula did better at the engagement thing in the 1997 version.
Social Media is a team sport.
George had a tight knit collaborative team around him led by his Ape Named Ape with schlepability (logistics) run by his elephant Shep and of course Ursula, among others. The point is, despite being challenged, George had skills that made for good collaboration, including his ability to explain concepts simply. Bad grammar doesn’t mean he is stupid. While perhaps not impressive, it just means he has bad grammar. Good teams find ways to leverage the experiences and abilities of its members. This lets the team become greater than the sum of the individuals.
Naturally you do want to post using good grammar, but leveraging a team at the right times can make the overall results even better.
Just like in the Jungle, if you get the social part right, the larger Tribe comes to your rescue when they feel they are needed.
Be able to laugh at yourself.
The reason the George character is successful is that we all relate to him, at least on some level. There will be a bad response, rogue post or something that you or your company will say that will ruin your week. George of the Jungle taught us that consistent honesty, transparency and well-meaning humor can help solve a lot of problems.
The recent case of the Red Cross mal-tweet was handled quickly and honestly (without people getting fired) and with a great sense of humor. The result was more than 20,000 additional Twitter followers and a lot of great press in a few days at a time when the Red Cross really needed to get its message out. For the record, donations increased as well to reward a job well done.
Even George knew that we’re all human.
Follow the seven minute rule.
Most cartoons have a run-time of seven minutes. The goal is to keep viewer engagement high, then come to a conclusion with a good kicker to make you smile. Sesame Street breaks its narrative up; frequently into short bursts to keep engagement with their audience high, and makes you smile. If someone has a problem, seven minutes can be a long time. Your goal is to start solving the problem in seven minutes and make them smile, or at least be happier than before.
Listen to every brand mention and triage what needs to be responded to immediately. Don’t wait too long to acknowledge other users trying to get your attention. This means you need to be ready to scale the department with the team needed to solve your world’s problems quickly.
George always had time to get into trouble, get out of trouble and bang into a few trees along the way.
Just watch out for that tree…