Last night, social media serendipity led me to a video of a man dancing at an outdoor music festival. The dancing man himself isn't anything special -- a clumsy show of flailing arms and legs that wouldn't get him through the first round of auditions on So You Think You Can Dance.
What happens next is pretty special (or at least interesting.)
When the man starts dancing, he is the only member of the crowd moving. In fact, it almost seems as if the rest of the audience is blissfully unaware that they're at a music festival at all. But within seconds he's joined by one, then two, then three other dancers. Within three minutes, hundreds of people are dancing.
And like countless other seemingly insignificant moments, all of it was caught on video and uploaded to the web. Within a month of being shared on YouTube, more than one million people have viewed the clip, more than five thousand have rated it, and more than three thousand have left comments. And it turns out that these few minutes in time were captured and uploaded by several different amateur shooters who were there to witness it, so the cumulative numbers are higher still.
That's a pretty impressive ripple effect (or maybe it's a butterfly effect) for something that began with literally just one person willing to do something nobody around him was doing.
Now is probably as good a time as any to watch the video, if you haven't seen it:
[Feed and email readers, click through to view.]
OK, so what does this have to do with marketing?
Certainly the dancing man provides a clear (if trivial) example of how the actions of a sole individual can provide the catalyst that not only directly influences the behavior of the people around them, but also have the potential to scale up to have something approximating mass reach. Rather than reaching out to millions in the hopes of finding and connecting with "the one" (who responds, who buys, who changes their behavior), why not start with the one who can influence hundreds and ultimately reach millions?
Perhaps the dancing man also offers a lesson about risk and reward -- as a marketer, are you willing to try something (and potentially look foolish) on the off chance that it will deliver an exponential result? Or will you sit on the sidelines for fear of failure?
But mostly, it leads me to ponder how marketers can have their own Dancing Man Moments. Off the top of my head, here are five ways:
- Be the Dancing Man: do something remarkable to spark a movement; star in the story yourself
- Bear Witness to the Dancing Man: document his actions; capture the moment; be the storyteller
- Put the Dancing Man on a Bigger Stage: celebrate him; tell everyone you know (your customers, audience, fans, friends); provide access to your larger network of distribution (after all, chances are your brand is bigger than his...)
- Join the Dancing Man: tap into the momentum of the movement; follow the dancing man's lead but play your own unique part in how the story unfolds
- Be the Song to His Dance: go beyond just joining in; contribute something unique and different, yet complementary; in fact, why not inspire him to dance in the first place