Social Media Lessons from Water Skiing (and Vice-Versa)


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Just a quick little ebook I threw together based on a blog post, wherein I compare two things I know very well -- water skiing and social media -- and explain what we can learn from each.

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Social Media Lessons from Water Skiing (and Vice-Versa)

  1. 1. Social Media Lessons from Water Skiing (and vice-versa)Stacy Lukasavitz@damnredhead
  2. 2. I wrote this as a blog post a couple years ago, and this summer I’ve been thinking about water skiing a lot. It’s what I grew up doing, though I haven’t been on the lake in a very long time. However, I was inspired enough to transform it into an ebook recently. I know that not everybody knows how to water ski, nor does everybody have a good handle (no pun intended) on what to do on the social web. However, hopefully you or someone you know can learn a little bit about both from this. If you have friends that are water skiers (or even if you don’t), please feel free to pass this on, I’ve licensed it under Creative Commons. Thanks, Stacy Lukasavitz @damnredhead http:/// me when I was about 17Social Media Lessons from Water Skiing (and Vice-Versa) by Stacy E. Lukasavitz is licensed under aCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
  3. 3. Lesson #1:Sometimes the hardestpart is just learning howto start. Many folks new to social media are intimidated as all getout because they simply aren’t comfortable online. It’s OK and it’s not uncommon. But there’s nothing to be afraid of, and once you learn a few basics, the rest comes a lot easier. You just have to jump in the water and give it a shot.
  4. 4. Lesson #2:Keep your knees bent.Your knees act like shock absorbers for oncoming waves. Likewise,you must accept that there will be waves at some point and remainflexible in social media efforts.Lesson #3:Keep your back straight, and your rope at thecenter of gravity.At the same time that your knees are bent to absorb oncomingwaves, you need to keep your back straight and your rope at yourcenter of gravity to prevent bad posture and face-planting. Likewise,in social media, you must remain flexible and at the same time keepyour composure.In the now-famous Skittles experiment, the brand decided to useTwitter as their “home page,” tracking every mention of the word“Skittles” on Twitter search, using the “let the users shape the brand”philosophy. However, by mid-afternoon Twitterers got bored andstarted badmouthing the brand, so Skittles redirected theirhomepage from Twitter search to their Facebook page (and rightfullyso).The lesson: Don’t be afraid to let your audience shape your brand,but remember it’s yours, and use your backbone.
  5. 5. Lesson #4:Only drop a ski when you’re ready.Transitioning from skiing on two to one is generally only after you’re very comfortable on two. You’ll know when you’reready for the next step, which is lifting one foot out of a ski and “dropping” it while you put that foot behind the onethat’s still in a ski. Nobody deep-water starts on one the very first time.Similarly, only when you’re comfortable onFacebook as an individual should you start a“fan page” for your organization or business,and only when you understand Twitter and use itfor yourself should you start tweeting for yourbusiness or whatever your ultimate motive maybe. It’s the classic “walk before you run”concept, but recently two real-life friends ofmine who are teachers joined Twitter becausethey heard it could be used in the classroom.Both of them said within their first few tweets, “Ineed help on how to use this as a teaching tool”and “I’m told I should use this to teach but Ithink it’s stupid.” I pointed them to a few “Twitterfor beginners” sources and smacked myforehead that they were planning on using a toolvery soon that they weren’t comfortable with toteach others. If I didn’t know water skiing likethe back of my hand, I most certainly wouldn’tteach others. It’s the same thing.
  6. 6. Lesson #5:Don’t look at the buoy, look past the buoy.One of the most famous quotes from The Great Wayne Gretzky is: “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”The same concept applies to water skiing, and social media.Let’s pretend you’re comfortable enough on one now that you wantto try the slalom course. The object of a water ski slalom course is toski around all six buoys at the shortest rope length possible. That isthe ultimate goal. However, if you’re just starting out, your ultimategoal is to get around the first few buoys at the longest rope length,75 feet. And the biggest mistake people make, even when they’remore advanced, is looking directly at the buoy they’re heading for.If you look at the buoy, you’ll miss it. You want to keep your headpointed toward the buoy, but keep your eyes on an imaginarymarker about 20 feet beyond it. You’ll approach it on time, andprovided you’re comfortable on the turn, you’ll make it.How does this translate to social media? Simple – when you knowand understand your long-term goals, it will make your short termgoals much easier.
  7. 7. Lesson #6:Keep your edgechange smooth.The edge change is the most importantpoint in slalom skiing. How you changefrom one edge of your ski to the other andstart your turn around the buoy dictateswhether or not you’ll make it. If you changeit too fast, you’ll fall on your face; if you do Good pre-edge changeit too slowly, you’ll miss the buoy . . . andprobably fall on your face. It’s all in thetiming and the technique.Similarly, a big part of the “marketing” insocial media is in the timing and technique.There are wrong ways to do things (“Hey,thanks for following, click my junk!”) andthere are right ways to do things (have aconversation with somebody and get toknow them before you even think about“going there”). I promise you, this guy TOTALLY wiped out!
  8. 8. Lesson #7:Know when to This dude is pulling WAY too hard against the boat.pull and whento let up.There is no “push” in water skiing. It’s all pull. But you can’t win in tug-of-war with a 250+horsepower boat. No matter what, the boat pulls you.Think of the boat as your customers. We’re learning now that content marketing, a.k.a. “pullmarketing” is working a lot better than “push marketing” (BUY MY STUFF!). But in water skiing,there’s a certain time to pull against the boat (when going across the wakes), and there’s a time tolet up (after crossing the second wake, into the pre-turn).You can’t push your customers into buying your crap anymore. Know when and how to pull themin, and understand that your market is bigger and stronger than you, and will win in the end if youpull too hard.
  9. 9. Lesson #8:Falling is natural. It’s the only way you learn. After youfall, catch your breath and analyze what went wrong.This one’s kind of self-explanatory. Every time I crash, I’m analyzing in my head before it even pops out ofthe water what I did wrong (Did I pull too hard? Did I break at the waist? Were my knees too straight?) andwhat I need to do next time to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
  10. 10. Lesson #9: Let go of the rope when you fall. To me it’s instinct to let go when I know I’m going to fall, but I’ve seen people be dragged by boats because they didn’t know enough to let go. Is something really not working for you in your social media efforts? Know when to let go and reassess.Lesson #10:If you’re cold, it’s OK to pee in your wetsuit(when you’re in the water, and don’t tellanybody). It’s not OK to pee in yourdrysuit. . . ever.Lesson learned relating to social media? Always know yourtools/equipment and both their capabilities and limitations. (Actually, it’s NEVER OK to pee in your wetsuit. That’s just WRONG.)
  11. 11. Lesson #11:If you don’t know what you’re doing and try to fake it, you’ll end up all wet. (This one doesn’t require an explanation, does it?)
  12. 12. Most importantly: It’s all about TEAMWORK.Even if you’re the only onebehind the boat, you stillneed a driver and anobserver. And even ifyou’re the only person inyour business with a gripon the social web, it reallyshould be a team activity. my home team!
  13. 13. Credits: Slide 2: me when I was around 17 Slide 3: Slide 4: Slide 5: & 56474767/ Slide 6: stock Slide 7: & 242543163/ Slide 8: Slide 9: Slide 10: stock Slide 11: Slide 12: -- Silver Lake Ski Team photo by Dennis Moore Stacy Lukasavitz @damnredhead stacy@thatdamnredhead.netSocial Media Lessons from Water Skiing (and Vice-Versa) by Stacy E. Lukasavitz is licensed under aCreative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.