Direct in his intentions, Thor's communication is hardly ever misconstrued in the many Marvel movies and comic books that feature him (or her, as the case may be). Thor's lightning-fast responses aren't the only qualities fans could learn from, however, especially those of us involved in digital marketing.
Some of Thor's habits have actually taught me to be a better digital marketer.
Self-Care: “This mortal form grows weak. I require sustenance!” (Thor [film], 2011)
Even when he’s mortal, Thor is pretty mighty. What makes him even more formidable is the fact that he takes time for what the Tumblrites affectionately promote as self-care.
We’ve all had those days more focused on deadlines, blog posts due, word counts and reporting, but nurturing yourself is crucial to your success. Whether you’re raiding on WoW or responding to a customer complaint on Facebook, you’re going to run out of steam, focus and confidence if you don’t break for important things like human interaction, showering, eating and stretching. (Also coffee. Never forget coffee.) And speaking of coffee…
Repeat Success: “This drink, I like it! Another!” (Thor [film], 2011)
[caption id="attachment_22797" "aligncenter" width="390"] Source: http://fearlessmen.com/how-to-beat-the-blues/[/caption]
Thor finds that he likes coffee. He demands more coffee. After a while, he’ll probably want to try different varieties of coffee, or at least try the same drink in a different mug (considering he has a mug-breaking habit).
Content works similarly. If people are thirsty for a certain type of content, they’ll probably appreciate more of the same, but you have to switch it up and offer something new (brilliantly repurposed) after a while.
If you’re lucky, you’ll have an audience full of people as vocal as Thor; they’ll tell you what they want and what bothers them. That doesn’t always happen, though, so you should pay attention to your metrics, especially if you don’t have a hefty amount of engagement data.
Learn to Say No: “I Say Thee NAY!” (Avengers Prime, 1, 4, etc.)
This is a pretty famous Thor line, and one he says more than once. No one gets too pushy with the god of thunder!
As a digital marketing professional, life is busy. You’re constantly connected. There are many opportunities and you have to give something to get something – it’s part of the way things work! However, it’s easy to overcommit, and that can lead to burnout. Your bottom line will suffer, especially if you do too many things for free or less than you should charge.
Thor knows it, and you should, too: sometimes you have to say no. And when you do so politely, and people don’t listen, you really just have to declare it.
Win as the Persistent Underdog: “Though I face most awesome odds...Thor is helpless...never!” (Thor, 1, 149)
Thor’s in a desperate spot. His allies are unable to help him in person, so they plead with Odin for the restoration of Thor’s power. A villain known as The Wrecker is perched to destroy Thor: but Thor doesn’t give up. This relentless determination helps us see Thor as the irrepressible underdog, and we love him for it. This narrative hooks the audience every time, and it's effective in real life, too.
Are you advocating for change in an agency? Are you a solopreneur? Whether you work at a corner table in Starbucks or a corner office at Google, it’s your corner – and at some point, you might feel like the only one in it. Like Thor, you need to fight in the important battles – don’t compromise on ethics, even if it means being the underdog.
Keep Your Promises, Even If Belated: “I gave you my word that I would return.” (Thor: The Dark World, 2013)
When Thor meets Jane Foster in the 2011 Marvel movie, they form a great connection. More than a couple, they’re a fantastic team. When Thor returns to Asgard, he promises Jane that he’ll come back for her specifically.
Well, Thor has to bust up the Bifrost bridge to prevent a genocide, and then the Chitauri invade Earth – so he returns to save Jane’s planet, but doesn’t ask Tony Stark to hook him up with a Skype account that'll bypass S.H.I.E.L.D. security and allow him to say hi. Then he’s obligated to take his criminal-of-a-brother home for trial.
Though he’s been pining for Jane, Thor doesn’t come back to Earth until 2013, when he’s told she may be in danger. It took him so long (at least in mortal years) to keep his promise, but he did keep it. This benefits his reputation with Jane as well as his mortal friends.
The same holds true for digital marketers. Our lives are busy and filled with many obligations. As Thor has responsibilities as Prince of Asgard, so must we manage our own business lives. When you make promises, don’t forget them. Fulfill them, even if you can’t do it as soon as you’d like.
Staying in touch – or even a simple retweet – goes a long way in the realm of social media, as does an apology. Don't be a jerk. Don't forget Jane!
Maintain Personal Branding; Consider Your Audience: "There must always be a Thor." (Thor, 4, 1)
When Marvel announced that Thor would be a female character, fans went nuts. I was in the minority of fans defending the decision from the start, though over time, many lifelong Thor fans came to appreciate this Thor's capability. Shortly after picking up the hammer, the mysterious new Thor explained "There must always be a Thor."
This is an in-universe recognition of Thor's branding and recognition as a staple, symbol and figure. Like any solid personal or business brand, Thor recognizes the value in a consistent message.
That said, she's also aware that changes happen. This particular shift affected not only how characters perceived Thor in the story, but how they viewed Marvel. The entire conversation became rather meta, directly involving digital marketing: Marvel's Executive Editorial Director of Digital Media, Ryan Penagos, responded by thanking everyone for their hype about the change (whether they were for or against), but also made some posts to clarify that Thor was in fact a woman (not she-Thor or Lady Thor) and to highlight some of the vicious comments received.
Thor creative Jason Aaron continued to discuss his work in the back of each issue. Some fans felt betrayed. Others were thinking about it like I was: please, please stand behind this decision. Marvel did, officially speaking up in favor of representation of women in comics in a way that hadn't been done previously by a major publisher. As a bonus, Aaron's Thor valiantly defends her own existence versus the Absorbing Man, who villainously proclaims that the feminists are ruining everything.
While the character (and the Marvel brand) may have lost some supporters over this decision, they brilliantly increased long-term brand loyalty by standing behind their creative talent and their fans.
Who is your favorite superhero, and what valuable lessons have you learned from them? Let me know in the comments! And if you're a fellow fan of Thor, please say hi!
Tara M. Clapper is Technical Editor at SEMrush and Senior Editor at The Geek Initiative, a website celebrating women in geek culture. Connect with her on LinkedIn and Twitter and view her writing portfolio.