Building Community: How Social Media is Like Air Guitar

Believe it or not, the addictiveness of social media has a direct correlation with America’s up-and-coming favorite new pastime, the world of competitive air guitar.

What Are You Talking About?

You may think there is a shaky connection at best, but I can tell you from personal experience that being a part of the air guitar body politic is exactly the feeling that millions of people get every day as they use social media. It’s why 650 million people are on Facebook,  225 million are on Twitter, and 100 million are on LinkedIn.

As I sit here at my computer on the eve of opening night of the 2011 U.S. Air Guitar season wishing I was in Chicago to witness the first national air guitar competition of the year in person, I am refreshing the @usairguitar Twitter page every five or 10 minutes to see how the competition is going.

  Opening night on the U.S. Air Guitar tour and I'm experiencing it virtually by monitoring Twitter.

Opening night on the U.S. Air Guitar tour and I'm experiencing it virtually by monitoring Twitter.

Social media addiction is very, very common. You probably have it and don’t even know it. This technology has fundamentally changed our behavior so much in the last five years. Jeff Bullas posted some great examples of social media addiction just recently on his blog:

  • When you leave your iPhone behind at home do you feel a sense of loss and isolation because you can’t check your Facebook or Twitter updates while out and about
  • You check your Facebook account 20 times a day
  • You have more online friends than you have in real life
  • You Tweet on your mobile while walking
  • You log on to Facebook before you have brushed your teeth in the morning
  • You check your Facebook or Twitter updates ‘after’ going to bed

    So that’s reason number one how social media is like air guitar. It’s addictive. Ever since I saw the documentary “Air Guitar Nation” and realized there were shows/competitions for something I’d been doing in my bedroom since high school anyway, I’ve been obsessed with the underground world of competitive air guitar.

    Guess how I found out more about it?

    Social media. Duh. Through the USAirguitar.com blogFacebook page, and Twitter account, I pieced together what I knew to be the brief history of organized air guitar competitions in America since the movie. (There are world championships too, but that’s another story.)

    Now here’s where I draw the real connection. What is fundamental to my continuing air guitar addiction is absolutely fundamental to the magnetism of social media:

    It’s the sense of community.

    That feeling of community is a big part of why social media is so huge. The air guitar flash mob created one in less than a month.

      That feeling of community is a big part of why social media is so huge. The air guitar flash mob was created one in less than a month.

    That feeling of community is a big part of why social media is so huge. The air guitar flash mob was created one in less than a month.

    Why do people participate in social media?

    • We want to be a part of something.
    • We want to feel a connection.
    • We want to share experiences.
    • We want validation.
    • We want to keep up friendships and start new ones.

    Social media platforms allow us to do all that and more. Understanding these basic principles will make anything you create in the social media realm more effective. Do some online research. Find out what your customers want. Create something that appeals to these instincts; something with real value. Make them feel like their opinion matters.

    Creating a community isn’t easy, but it’s about the best thing you can have for your brand because it inspires loyalty. Loyalty means its not just your company speaking to your customers, but your also your active brand advocates and ambassadors.

    Wait — there’s an air guitar community?

    Damn straight. Since my recent entry into U.S. Air Guitar shows in 2009, I’ve competed nine times and made around a hundred friends. We all have one thing in common: an unhealthy obsession for a semi-obscure art form that most people laugh at. (We do too, by the way. We know its ridiculous — that’s part of the fun.) We speak the same language. When I tell you, the newbie, that Nordic Thunder won the Chicago show tonight (I just checked the Twitter feed–whoo-hoo!), that means nothing to you.

    But when I tell my air guitar pals Lt. Facemelter (San Diego) or Dirty Airy (San Francisco) or theLost Heartbreaker (Minneapolis), they understand immediately that this long-haired, skirted USAG hall-of-famer has just won his fourth regional competition and continues to be a mighty “air” force to be reckoned with.

    Last week, I organized an air guitar flash mob in my hometown to help raise awareness for the U.S. Air Guitar show that’s coming here next week. After the event, the 50 or so newly empowered air guitarists all went and had a drink together, hanging out as long as they could with the group because we had just accomplished something together. We shared an experience. We have a connection. The ensuing TV and blog coverage bonded us even closer. Validation.

    I used Facebook and the Social Media Club of Kansas City page to spread the word about the flash mob. There was a certain level of excitement right away. Social media helped create that community. The event itself and ensuing media coverage it got sealed the deal.

    When I gather backstage at a U.S. Air Guitar show with my fellow costumed freedom fighters, I feel empowered. We’re all about to do something ridiculous together. When the show is over, you can bet I feel like I’m a part of something.

    My name is Mean Melin and I am a proud brand ambassador for U.S. Air Guitar. Now go out there and create an environment for your brand to do the same thing.