Soaking-Up Social Cues from Sulu: What George Takei can Teach you About Social Media Marketing

November 29, 2012 — Leave a comment

It seems odd that an actor who portrayed a supporting role on a show that disbanded before more social media users were even born is a Facebook superstar. But there is no denying it, Star Trek’s Sulu, aka George Takei is a social superstar with his over two and a half million fans on Facebook and over half a million Twitter followers. And these numbers are still growing—quickly!

Not only does Takei have fans, he has ACTIVE fans. He has received over 3million Likes and has almost 3million people talking about him on Facebook. To put that in perspective, the protagonistof Star Trek, Captain Kirk, played by William Shatner, has under 200,000 Likes.

Beyond Star Trek characters, Takei is also beating the world’s biggest pop stars, including uber-popular Rihanna. Rihanna may have more than 50million more Likes than Takei, but his posts garner far more engagement then hers. For example, when Rihanna Facebook’d a clip for her music video Battleship it garnered about 20,000 Likes and about 1,800 Shares. Around the same time Takei posted a video of himself doing a happy dance and it received 30,000 Likes and 10,000 Shares. And those numbers are fairly standard as it isn’t unusual for a Takei post to earn 50,000+ Likes.

Happy Dance

Where did this social super stardom come from though? Well, as it turns out good ole’ Sulu is extremely adept at social media marketing his own brand (although whether he marketed his brand on social networks or CREATED it is up for debate. Either way though, wow).

We can surmise a few key lessons from Takei’s success to apply to our own brands:

Sulu’s Social-Media School, Lesson #1: Original Humor Pays Off
While George can circulate a funny internet meme with the best of us, his original brand of humor has proved exceedingly effective. Even when posting a popular and well-circulated meme Takei puts his own unique spin on it. For example, he recently posted a picture-based meme that reads “my bed is a magical place where I suddenly remember everything I was supposed to do” and prefaced it with his own punny humor by calling the photo “a blanket statement”. The lesson here: be funny, be punny, and most importantly—be original.

Sulu’s Social-Media School, Lesson #2: Be Strategic
While Takei’s social media accounts are humor-based, they still have a very strategic agenda—to promote his own brand as an actor. And he does it well. Take, for example, his recent promotion of his play “Allegiance” across all his social accounts—at regular promotional intervals. That play went on to break box office records. If you follow Takei’s social profiles you will also know when he makes guest appearances, like on The Big Bang Theory and Hawaii Five-O. In addition to promoting himself as an actor Takei is extremely active politically, especially in the battle for gay rights. What to learn from Takei: when promoting yourself or your company on social networks, have a clear and strategic vision for the network and then reinforce that, daily.

Sulu’s Social-Media School, Lesson #3: Interact
Despite Takei’s shameless self promotion and punny posts, he still has extremely high levels of interaction with his fans. Just to name but a few examples, this year Takei has already hosted a Halloween Contest, his New Word Contest and his 2,500,000th fan contest. His engagement is honest, interesting and has a strategic point to it. We could all learn a lot from the Takei-level of interaction.

What We Can Learn From it All
The major concept we can learn from Takei though—beyond the great sense of humor, incredible levels of interaction and strategic nature—is that it takes constant effort. None of the above three lessons are accidents made by Sulu. He posts more than 5 times a day. Every day. He cleverly (and intentionally) mixes the posts between humor, engagement and self promotion types of posts. He’s earned every follower and works hard to keep them.

 

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