In remembering the great Muhammad Ali, who recently passed away, I watched some of his fights on Youtube. The more I watched, the more I realised that the sport of boxing is very similar to social media. It seems like a strange comparison to make, I know, but once you give it more thought you realise that the idea is not as outlandish as it seems. Here’s how I came to my conclusion:
In both boxing and social media, you are trying to beat your opponent. More so in social media for businesses, but on a personal level too. I see people on my timeline constantly displaying what they own, what they are doing, who they’ve met – the list goes on. Why would we do this? I do not plead innocence in this regard at all. I constantly post a picture of me with one of my heroes, Sir Alex Ferguson, basically to show people that I had the privilege of meeting him and the large majority of my peers did not. I won. I didn’t post it for the sole purpose of bragging but that is essentially what I’m doing.
The more you train in boxing, the better you become. You learn tactics, how to move, how to manage your pain threshold etc. It is the same with social media in that the more you post and practice, the more you learn how far you can push certain boundaries and the better you became at structuring posts in order to get the most reaction out of them. After all, we post on social media to get a reaction. The better you get at it, the more reactions you will receive.
Boxing can be a back-and-forth battle, or simply one opponent wiping out the other. In social media, you can see it when people post controversial content to evoke a response. Many people fall for this bait and a social media debate swiftly ensues. Far too often I see people entering a social media debate laughably unprepared and get completely annihilated by someone who knows the subject very well or is simply better at expressing themselves. It becomes a one-sided battle and the victim is left to lick his or her wounds. The other side of that is a back-and-forth battle that can consist of 2 or more people with the same level of ignorance or intelligence. As Mark Twain would tell you: from a distance, one cannot tell the difference. The latter of the two battles often ends in a stalemate and name-calling. “Racist!” “Reverse racist!”
The boxer with the best strategy is usually the winner. His opponent can hit harder or be faster but the smart boxer can win with timing. The same can be said for social media. People that post too much annoy people. People that don’t post enough don’t get noticed. In between these two extremes, you have the strategic poster – the one that chooses the exact moment of the day where most people or online to post, uses a trending topic to post about or evokes reaction by using subject matter that is controversial or divides opinion.
Having said all this, a simple sucker-punch can land you on the deck. If you’re not prepared for someone to hit you, you can be very badly impacted. On social media, you are able to control your reputation up to a certain point. All that it takes to tear all of that apart is a bad comment, review or post about you.
In both boxing and social media, you have to keep training and the best way is to be trained by the best. The good boxers don’t give up once they are down, they get back up and hit harder. The good social media people are the ones that know where the limits are, push them, and are always prepared for whatever anyone can say to derail them. Do you still think that this is a silly comparison?