5 social media lessons from Indiana Jones

5 social media lessons from Indiana Jones

When you love social media like we do, occasionally it drifts into all aspects of your life. After re-watching one of my favourite films this weekend, I couldn’t help but pick up on some vital lessons hidden in the plot.

Here are 5 valuable points for succeeding at social media that I’ve gleaned from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

1. Don’t just copy your competitors

Raiders opens with our hero braving poison arrows, spiked traps and crushing boulders to retrieve a golden idol. As he’s about to enter the ruins, Indy explains that this is where one of his competitors cashed in. He’s walking on well trodden ground but, as his companion warns, “no one has come out of there alive”.

Unlike the other grave robbers and rival archaeologist, Indy has a plan, and a bag of dirt. He knows that there are traps waiting inside the temple and he’s ready for them, even if he has to think on his feet at times.

What does this teach us?

While it’s good to keep an eye on what your rivals are up to, it can be treacherous following them blindly. They may have completely different objectives, targeting a different audience or a hundred other things you haven’t realised.

Instead, look at where they’ve succeeded and where they’ve failed then work out your own plan to avoid the various booby traps and escape with your prize.

2. Find the influencers and get them on your side

Indiana Jones largely succeeds in retrieving the Ark of the Covenant because of his friends.

It’s Marcus who convinces the government agents to send Indy on his adventure, Marion who has the all important headpiece for the staff and Sallah who helps Indy navigate Cairo, translate the headpiece, break into the tomb and ultimately sail away with his pirate connections all while the Nazis are digging in the wrong place.

What does this teach us?

Just like the world of Raiders, every social media platform has a set of influential users. These are the ones with a mass of loyal followers that can help get your messages heard.

Followerwonk is a great tool for finding out who are the influencers on Twitter. It lets you compare users and analyse their followers so you can work out which members are going to carry your message to the right audience for you.

Getting these power users on side can be the difference between finding the Well of Souls or just spending months excavating piles of sand.

3. Don’t just broadcast, get involved in the community

While Nazis are rarely popular at the best of times, in Raiders it’s obvious that the locals aren’t happy with them. They arrive in Cairo, “hire only the strongest backs and pay pennies for them”. In other words, they abuse the community. Indy on the other hand, dives into the community and wins the locals over. After he has stolen back the truck containing the Ark, it’s the locals that hide him. When the Nazis raid his getaway ship, Captain Katanga pretends Indy has died so that the Nazis don’t look for him and tries to talk the Nazis out of taking Marion prisoner. He also managed to get a university class to, not only pay attention to him, but become infatuated with him.


What does this teach us?

Getting involved in a community on the social platform wins over the audience. It turns them from passive consumers into brand advocates, ready to defend you if things take a turn for the worse.

Instead of just broadcasting sales messages, be active in conversations and offer help and advice to the community. People are much more likely to share advice than advertising.

4. Know the rules

In the climax of the film, Belloq and the Nazis fall foul of the Ark’s powers because they don’t pay attention to the rules. Indy however knows that looking at the power of God is the fastest way to have your face melted off.


What does this teach us?

Much like the Ark, social media can turn on you if you mistreat it. Every platform has its own etiquette, unwritten rules and accepted behaviours. If you don’t know your reposts from your retweets spend some time getting to know what is expected of you on each platform you use.

If you’re new to social media, we offer a range of workshops to get you up to speed. There are also tons of basic resources available across the web that can teach you the basics and get you ready to jump in on your own.

5. Don’t bring a sword to a gun fight

When hired killers attack Indiana Jones and Marion in the market, expert sword skills prove no match for a trusty revolver. In fact, Indy always seems to have the right tool for the job.

There’s a time for fancy sword skills but sometimes a gun is what you need.


What does this teach us?

Different social media environments need different approaches. There’s nothing wrong with sharing things everywhere you have a presence however you should tailor what you say depending on where you are.

Your Twitter users might be interested in one thing while your LinkedIn audience might demand something entirely different. Tailor what you say depending on where you are interacting to get the best results.

The best way to know how to do this for sure is to test. Try different messages on different platforms and see which ones get your audience to act. Use Google Analytics to track visitors from social media and to find out what areas they interact with.


When you’re using social media, you are very much in the hands of the existing community. If you want to succeed, have a plan, get to know the community and do your best to become part of it.

If you need a guide, we are always here to lend a hand. After all, we’ve had top men examining social media for years. Top men.