Media theorist Douglas Rushkoff took the stage Thursday morning at Social Media Week in New York to discuss Occupy Wall Street and Jeremy Lin.
OWS and Lin are both cultural phenomena propelled into the national spotlight through the power of social media. But Rushkoff drew another parallel between the two that could be key to a brand's success in the social media age.
First, consider Lin. The Harvard graduate isn't another Michael Jordan, known for his slam dunks, Rushkoff said. Lin is a team player who keeps the ball moving, helping to make the players around him better. He “decentralizes basketball,” Rushkoff said, and he will keep audiences captivated as long as he does not move away from that strategy.
Similarly, Occupy Wall Street began as a team-focused movement, and its slip from the spotlight can be partially attributed to a shift away from that mentality, Rushkoff said. OWS was “networked, leaderless, deliberate, collaborative,” he said, “against centralized institutions.”
People have responded to OWS and Lin on a massive scale. However, according to Rushkoff, neither has gained popularity because of a Facebook page or a catchy hashtag. Social media might have helped to empower them, but only because both tap into a new cultural mentality where connection and playing for the team matter more than individual gain. It is a good lesson for brands still trying to navigate the social media landscape.