A few weeks back I decided I would watch M. Night Shyamalan’s live action version of Avatar: The Last Airbender, I also for argument’s sake went on Netflix and watched the original animated series to see how far off he was. In going through the animated version I came across an episode where the main character Aang is speaking to his old friend Bumi. Bumi is the king of a conquered nation and has seemingly done nothing to stop it when he very well could have. Aang ask Bumi ” I don’t understand. Why didn’t you free yourself? Why did you surrender when Omashu was invaded? What’s the matter with you, Bumi!?”. Bumi replies by saying “Listen to me, Aang. There are options in fighting, called jing. It’s a choice of how you direct your energy…”. He goes on to explain that there are three types of Jing Positive, Negative, and Neutral. Positive Jing is when you are attacking and on the offensive, Negative Jing is when you are retreating and you are on the defensive, and Neutral Jing is when you seemingly do nothing. This, however, is not the case as Neutral Jing in reality is waiting so you can watch, and listen to your opponent waiting for the exact right moment to attack.
As I was listening to this and thinking of it after the episode was over I realized that these principles could be applied to any facet of our lives including a Social Media Strategy for businesses. In fact it is exactly what I try to explain to my perspective clients day in and day out. Here is exactly how these philosophies are applicable to Social Media.
Positive Jing- the art of attack – This is achieved by getting out there and posting and growing your audience by actively searching them out. Engaging with them by putting out quality content which is relevant and interesting to them. Posting in forums that are specific to your industry, or even niche within that industry, or writing a blog that gives your subscribers a helpful tip are all Social Media examples of Positive Jing.
Negative Jing – the art of defense – Conversations happen within Social Media every day, some of them are about your company, and yet still some of those are not good conversations about your company. These are the comments, posts, and reviews where people are complaining about your product and services and warning others not to deal with your business. At this point is when our Negative Jing approach comes into play. The last thing you want to do is simply delete negative comments about your business the odds are someone has already seen it and if they check back or send a friend to look, and it isn’t there they will automatically what was said is true and you are now trying to cover it up. Instead we must reach out to the person publicly where they posted and explain that you are sorry for the fact that they are unsatisfied and if they would like to contact you directly you would be more than happy to resolve the situation. Once you have spoken to them, and if the issue is satisfied to their liking you should then ask them to post how happy they were with your customer service and how quickly their issue was handled.
Neutral Jing- the art of waiting – In regards to Social Media neutral jing is as, if not more important than our previous two jings combined. With Neutral Jing philosophy you are going to listen to what it is your audience is talking about. This will not only help to identify negative comments which you can transition to negative jing to handle but also you will find the positive comments and revert to positive jing to highlight those comments and make sure everyone sees them. The greatest advantage to neutral jing however is not being able to transition to one of the other two based on comments about your business but that by listening and watching, hearing what your audience has to say they will eventually tell you how to sell your product to them.
Take Loft for example they had started a campaign on Facebook for a new line of pants they had coming out, and like most other people in the fashion industry they posted pictures of models wearing these pants. Well that did not go over so well with their audience and on person actually commented saying sure they would look great on a six-foot tall thin model, but what about a normal woman they would probably make us look fat and dumpy. This began an onslaught of comments agreeing with the original. Loft being Social savy listened to what people were saying and immediately found women who work in their office that were “average”, took pictures of them in the pants and then posted those to Facebook. Their audience ate it up and all of the women who had said that the pants wouldn’t look good on normal women took back what they said and Loft had very successful sales based on listen and watching and responding to what their audience wanted.
So as you can see if Loft had not, without knowing, practiced the art of neutral jing they may not have sold many of those particular pants at all, but because they did they had a very successful campaign. As business owners the end goal with Social Media is to make more money, and the only way to truly do that is to sit back, watch, and listen to what your customers are saying both about you and what they want.