Rock stars become famous but physicists typically work in obscurity. However, Stephen Hawking, a physicist and cosmologist, is a celebrity. He’s a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in the United Kingdom and he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009. One of his books, A Brief History of Time, was on The Sunday Times best-seller list for 237 weeks—a record that still stands.
When it comes to social networking and social media marketing, what can you learn from this extremely accomplished scientist?
- Become an expert and be recognized as an expert. In his field, Hawking is recognized as the expert on space and physics. He is currently Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge. When NASA held its 50th anniversary celebration in 2008, Hawking gave the keynote speech. As part of your social media strategy, incorporate tactics that position you and your company as the expert.
- Speak and travel. Hawking is almost 100% paralysed; he has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). Not only can he not move, but he can only speak with the assistance of a specially programmed computer that offers a synthesized voice. Yet despite these difficulties, he travels widely in order to give speeches. It’s an old school tactic but speaking in front of groups in your space remains an effective way to reinforce your social media presence.
- Overcome all obstacles. Despite his debilitating ALS, Hawking leads an extremely productive life. In addition to speaking, he appears on television, writes, has a family life (he’s written several books with his daughter Lucy), and continues his extensive research. So there’s absolutely no excuse for anyone to feel they are not executing a social media marketing strategy because they have hurdles in the way. Hawking is living proof that we can all deal with any obstacles.
- Be published. Hawking’s books include The Nature of Space and Time, the aforementioned A Brief History of Time, and The Grand Design. Publishing a book (or books) remains one of the most powerful and potent social media weapons. As an added bonus, the content can be repurposed for other marketing uses. And if you’re not a writer or you don’t have the time to write a book – or, like Hawking, you’re paralysed and you have to write using a special device – you can collaborate or hire a writer. Hawking has worked with co-authors on many of his books. If your book isn’t quite ready, then start a blog.
- Get on screen. Hawking is quietly a media star. He has played himself in many television shows including Star Trek: The Next Generation. And yes—he’s been on The Simpsons and there’s even a Stephen Hawking action figure. While you might not have an action figure made of you and your animated doppelganger might not be designed by Matt Groening, you can still “appear” on TV by filming short videos and posting them on your website, blog and video sharing sites like YouTube.
If you’re a physicist and you’re interested in space and time, then you’ll find Stephen Hawking’s work vital. But if you’re “just” a business person striving to expand your social media marketing reach, then Hawking could provide plenty of inspiration to help your brand reach the stars.
Who gives you inspiration? We want to know. Share your story of inspiration below.
Excellent article Maria. I am a big admirer of Dr. Hawking but never viewed him from the social media perspective. There is no doubt that he has earned his great reputation by overcoming the type of obstacles that would leave many of us helpless. Hawking also produces a tremendous amount of quality content, which is always helpful in social media. He is certainly the epitomy of the expression “content is king.”