Newton’s Laws of Social Media


By DJ Edgerton

Newton. The one with the apple, remember? You’ve got his Laws of Motion tucked back in your brain from school somewhere. Did you ever think they might come in handy again? They just might.

But in case they’re a little fuzzy, here’s a quick review to freshen them up a bit. (With the understanding that this is a blog about social media and pharma, not about physics, and therefore a pre-emptive apology for the scientific errors that are sure to follow.)

Inertia. A thing won’t move unless it’s forced to, and once moving, it won’t stop till it’s forced to either.
Force equals mass times acceleration. The power of something is a product of how big it is and how fast it’s going.
Reciprocal force. For everything you do, there’s an equal and opposite reaction.
How can you apply these into other aspects of life besides the physical sciences? Can you? And specifically, how can they apply to the pharma industry’s baby steps into social media? Can they really?

The first law – inertia – is probably the most obvious. A combination of fear and comfort means that new ideas are often tremendously difficult to get moving, especially when the organization (or the people in it) have been doing the same things the same way for a long time.

So here’s your first lesson. Can you accept that, as a “law of social media”, it will be hard to get your ideas going? It may help to encourage yourself by remembering the corollary: once everyone finally gets into it, they won’t want to stop.

The second law – the complicated one with the formula. F = m * a. The bigger your project is and the faster it’s going, the more impact it’ll have. Obvious, right? But think about the implications if you want to tweak a project. You want a bigger splash, broaden your scope… OR speed up your timeline. It’s probably not a good idea to do both.

Your second “law of social media” is to remember this along with algebra. One variable’s hard enough to work with. Trying to change two at once can make things pretty near impossible.

And the third law. For everything you do, there’s an opposite. If you push, you get pushed back upon. If you put something in one place, you’re removing it from another place.

That sense of cause and effect and of the finite nature of things is something many of us forget in this age of multitasking. So perhaps most of all here it is worth remembering. Whatever you choose to do, you are equally choosing not to do everything else. Are you making sure that your work, your research, your reading – (…your workout, your laughter, your love?) is in the right priority?

And so your third “law of social media” is more of a question. Are you accounting for reciprocal force? The projects you pour your heart into are most likely to succeed. Those you ignore will mostly likely not. Don’t be lulled into complacency by what you say you’re focusing on, to remember to see where your time actually is going. With social media, this is especially important – because so many of us don’t have the luxury of being able to devote our work to it full-time. The more standard responsibilities of our jobs still must be done, and done well.

Getting social media to thrive in our organizations will take more than wishing. It will take well-applied effort. And perhaps remembering some old laws, which hold true even in these new places. Are you in agreement with these new “laws”. We mean, like Newton, they were first introduced as mere theory.

What’s your theory?

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