The Grateful Dead: Social Media Strategists

  The Grateful Dead understood content sharing long before the Internet existed. Learn why their tactics are still relevant today.


What Does The Grateful Dead Have to Do With Social Media Marketing?

Grateful Dead, one of my favorite bands, became one of the most interesting social networking marketers before Mark Zuckerburg was even born.

The Grateful Dead allowed fans to record their concerts, so what that meant is that people could bring their recording gear and make those recordings.  And then, people, in a social network style would trade tapes. They would also give tapes away, and that generated interest in the band.

And all the tapes were different because they were all done at different shows and people soon realized that they had to go to the show to show themselves. Over time, the Grateful Dead became  the most popular touring band in history.

And it’s all because of content marketing, it’s all about creating content. So I see incredible parallels between the content that the Grateful Dead was putting out in late 70s early 80s and how they are encouraging sharing, and what’s going on today.

We Are in the Middle of a Communication Revolution

I think we are in the middle of a fifty-year revolution. It started in August 1995 and I chose August 1995 because that’s the month Netscape went public. That was when web browsers became widely available to most people. At that point, there were about 10 million people on the web in the entire world. It has exploded since then. So we’re about halfway through the biggest communication revolution in human history. It’s that important.

The second-biggest communications revolution in human history happened 550 years ago with the invention of the printing press. When the printing press was invented, all of a sudden books became much cheaper, because they didn’t have to be copied by hand, they could actually be printed. That meant there was an incentive for people to own books or institutions, libraries, churches to own books, and much more likely than the older versions that you had to copy. That invention of the printing press ushered in the Renaissance.

We’re going through an even more important communications revolution right now, and that is the revolution of the smartphone. The revolution of the smartphone is that everybody on the planet soon will have a device in their pocket that connects them with every other human on the planet.

How Has The Internet Age Revolutionized Marketing?

More people in this world have a mobile device connected to the Internet than have a working toilet in their home. More people in the world have a communication device in their pocket than own a toothbrush. And what it means is that the revolution is around everything. How we communicate, how we market, how we sell, how we generate attention for our businesses. We are figuring it all out as we go along.

So for me personally, I’m absolutely thrilled that I saw the beginnings of this revolution 20 years ago, when almost nobody was saw that this was the biggest revolution in human history coming upon us, and we are nowhere near the end point yet. It’s happening. But I still see a lot of people resistant to the revolution.

There’s a lot of people who say “social networking, that’s just for kids“, “you know we’re happy to make our cold calls and do our television advertising that works just fine for us”.

Well, you know what? If it’s working just fine for you that’s great, I’m not going to tell you not to do it, I’m not suggesting that if something is working for you shouldn’t do it, but I am suggesting that when you have to make a product decision go to Google.

You need to be a part of that revolution to be a part of humanity, you need to be part of that revolution to be able to sell any product or services. For example, political campaigns that have embraced real-time communications have the candidates that are currently the front runners. That’s interesting to me. And I don’t think that that’s a coincidence. That’s because some people are embracing revolution and some people aren’t.


About David Meerman Scott

Our always-on, Web-driven world has new rules for competing and growing business. Advance planning is out – agile is IN! Those who embrace new ways will be far more successful than those who stay who stay stuck and afraid to change. No one knows more about using the new Real-Time tools and strategies to spread ideas, influence minds and build business than David Meerman Scott. It’s his specialty.

David Meerman Scott is an internationally acclaimed sales and marketing strategist whose high-energy presentations are a treat for the senses. That he’s spoken on all seven continents and in 40 countries to audiences of the most respected firms, organizations and associations underscores the value he brings to audiences.

David’s books and blog are must-reads for professionals seeking to generate attention in ways that grow their business. He is author or co-author of ten books – three are international bestsellers. The New Rules of Marketing & PR, now in its 5th edition, has been translated into 27 languages and is a modern business classic with over 350,000 copies sold so far. Scott also authored Real-Time Marketing & PR, a Wall Street Journal bestseller, Newsjacking, and his newest hit The New Rules of Sales & Service. He is co-author of Marketing the Moon (with Rich Jurek) and Marketing Lessons from The Grateful Dead (with HubSpot CEO Brian Halligan).