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Baby, We Were Born to Market: Springsteen on Social Media Marketing

by Steve Olenski  |  
July 11, 2011

For those of you living under a rock, longtime member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons passed away at the age of 69 a few weeks ago from complications following a stroke. In honor of The Big Man’s passing, I give you now … Springsteen on Social Media Marketing.

“Is that you, baby, or just a brilliant disguise?"
Song: Brilliant Disguise

What It Means for Social Media Users: Quite simply, be yourself. No disguises---no matter how brilliant they may be. It is vital to be yourself and transparent at all times ... else you will be found out and banished to Jungleland.

“You can't start a fire without a spark.”
Song: Dancing in the Dark

What It Means for Social Media Users: I know you want to get to a million Twitter followers at warp speed, but unless you are Charlie Sheen who skipped the sparks and went right to raging inferno, you need to take your time, create that spark, that buzz, and build your network. After all, this is the Land of Hopes and Dreams.

“Well now, I'm no hero, that's understood.”
Song: Thunder Road

What It Means For Social Media Users: It means this is just one man’s opinion I am sharing with you. A very tongue-in-cheek opinion. Just remember, there is no such thing as a social media expert. If anyone tells you they’re a social media expert kindly ask them to Fade Away.

“Honey, I want the heart, I want the soul, I want control right now.”
Song: Badlands

What It Means For Social Media Users: If you’re a business owner, company, advertiser, etc and have the idea that you can control the conversation in the social media world, you will very soon be a Dead Man (or Woman) Walkin’.

“No retreat, baby no surrender.”
Song: No Surrender

What It Means For Social Media Users: Yes, it’s a cliché, but it’s also true. In the world of social media, you can’t surrender, you can’t give up and you surely can’t retreat. You have to remain consistent and vigilant because hey, after all, you are Working On A Dream.

“When the change was made uptown and the Big Man joined the band.”
Song: Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out

What It Means For Social Media Users: Not a damn thing … just wanted to end this with a salute and tribute to Clarence.

Rest in peace, Big Man.

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Named one of the Top 100 Influencers In Social Media (#41) by Social Technology Review and a Top 50 Social Media Blogger by Kred, Steve Olenski is a senior content strategist at Responsys, a leading global provider of on-demand email and cross-channel marketing solutions.

He has worked on everything from a Super Bowl TV spot to a Mom and Pop radio spot---and all points in between. He doesn't drink. He doesn't smoke. He doesn't use foul lang... well, he doesn't drink or smoke.

He is a naturally curious and opinionated person who's had to fight his way (sometimes literally) for everything he's achieved professionally. And if it were not for his rock (AKA his wife), he would not be here today. He would still be stocking shelves, not that there's anything wrong with that... 

Follow @steveolenski on Twitter

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  • by Tom Rajala Mon Jul 11, 2011 via blog

    Good advice from a perhaps unlikely source. Shows some old-school soul. But what would Lady Gaga or Bruno Mars say about social media/marketing? Is Springsteen still relevant? To which market segment does he speak?

  • by Marcia Mon Jul 11, 2011 via blog

    OK, Steve, Now I really don't want to do any work right now. I just want to listen to all the great Springsteen clips you have posted---even though I could pull them out myself, from my collection. I'll be back later for the rest. You've hit a high note on social media marketing, although what Charlie Sheen is doing in the list of tags between Springsteen and Clarence Clemens is beyond my comprehension.

  • by gaida Mon Jul 11, 2011 via blog

    I must confess, I havn't been a Bruce Springsteen fan so far, not really, but now I'm proselytized.
    Your idea - great! (and Springsteen's music as well, of course)
    All the best

  • by Colleen Swanger Mon Jul 11, 2011 via blog

    This is a great and I can relate, especially given my love of the Boss. I wish everything were this easy to understand!


  • by corset Mon Jul 11, 2011 via blog

    This is the latest of a modest marketing tool!
    Now very popular, you can write anywhere, anytime they want to say something, with your friends, classmates, relatives, or attention to everything that other people share your own!
    Very good!

  • by Steve Olenski Tue Jul 12, 2011 via blog

    Hi Tom,

    Is Springsteen still relevant? I beg your pardon!!! He is not called The Boss for nothing... He is ALWAYS relevant and he speaks to EVERY market segment... :)

    Thanks for chiming in, Tom!

  • by Steve Olenski Tue Jul 12, 2011 via blog

    HI Marcia,

    Sorry for the distraction! And yes, it is sad re: Charlie Sheen and the facade that he's perpetrating but he can do as he pleases... we are the ones who decide if he's worth following, engaging, with, etc...

    Thanks for the comment, Marcia!

  • by Steve Olenski Tue Jul 12, 2011 via blog

    Hi Gaida,

    Where've you been re: Springsteen? LOL... Of course now I have to go look up and see what 'proselytized' means... :)

    Thanks a lot!

  • by Steve Olenski Tue Jul 12, 2011 via blog

    Hi Colleen,

    Yes the world would be much better place if everything were made so easy for us to understand but alas... we know it's not!

    Glad you liked the article and thank you!

  • by Steve Olenski Tue Jul 12, 2011 via blog

    Hi Corset,

    Social media is indeed VERY popular and will continue to grow in popularity...

    Thank you for your comment!

  • by Chris Nadeau Tue Jul 12, 2011 via blog

    Great post Steve! Amazing tips, some good humour, great tunes and of course a great tribute to Clarence Clemons. My fav is "You can't start a fire without a spark" and the Charlie Sheen raging inferno comparison. :-)

    Nice work!

  • by Social Steve Tue Jul 12, 2011 via blog

    Nice compilation of two of my favorites - social media and The Boss. If interested, I took a similar, but different approach when I worote the article "How I Learned About Social Media Influence from Bruce Springsteen in 1975" at a while back. (Not in 1975, just a year or so ago.) Feel free to check it out.

    Thanks and best,
    Social Steve

  • by Bev Tue Jul 12, 2011 via blog


    What a creative way to talk about social media. This will be something that will stay with readers and therefore be more useful. Love the Springsteen clips but can't pick just one. :) I will put the Boss up against others any day! He has had the staying power.

  • by jim smith, ctie Tue Jul 12, 2011 via blog

    Ah...a kindred spirit!

    Great proof statements that you can, indeed, have pinstripes and Rock-n-Roll!

  • by R U Serious? Tue Jul 12, 2011 via blog

    I know it's summer, but this is some pretty thin gruel.

  • by Scott Brewitt Tue Jul 12, 2011 via blog

    Bruce is an amazing songwriter. But I'd say although his songs may be telling what people should do regarding Social Media, he wasn't a huge social media case-study. Although the music said great things - there wasn't that 'hand-off' where the fans took "Bruce" and made it bigger than the band members or record producers ever did (thing Harley Davidson or Grateful Dead)- Bruce never created a brand that people would tattoo or paste Bruce stickers all over everything they owed. I've never heard of a 'bruce-head'

    Think of this: If you see a car with Dead stickers all over it and you are a Dead-Head, you have a very good idea the life-philosophy of the person driving it (and don't make yourself look foolish by commenting that "Ya, they'd all be stoned") If someone has Bruce stickers all over their car - what does thay say about that person? (besides they like Bruce?) Would you trust them more? (Truth be told, I'd have little hesitation trusting the dead sticker person based on the relationship people have to that brand and how they are taught to take care of each other.)

    there are college-level course and books written on this exact topic but based on the grateful dead's use of 'social media.' Of course that was not their intent but rather they felt the music (the content) was free once it was out there and should be shared with others to create a trusted environment of friends (sound familiar?). The fans were allowed to be part of the experience so they took it and were allowed to run with it as they chose and they were self regulated by other fans making sure things stayed 'cool.'

    very interesting phenomenon to study and many have written about it

  • by Steve Olenski Tue Jul 12, 2011 via blog

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the kind words! Sad for sure that The Big Man left us but he will always be with us in song!

    Thanks again!

  • by beachfly Tue Jul 12, 2011 via blog


    That was a fun read - I'm always up for inspirations from the Boss. As a follow up, can you do column examining how the Bruce is doing with his own social media usage?

  • by Robin Bertelsen Tue Jul 12, 2011 via blog


    To see Bruce's "tips" for social media in his lyrics is no surprise to me - I've gotten life lessons from the Boss for decades. Nice post and, I'll always miss Clarence.

  • by Steve Olenski Tue Jul 12, 2011 via blog

    Hi Robin,

    I too have received life lessons from The Boss as well... his lyrics just seem to transcend time, age, race, etc... something for everyone.

    Thanks for the comment!

  • by eaon Tue Jul 12, 2011 via blog

    I've used 'Do you think what I'm asking's too much ? I just want something to hold on to And a little of that human touch' on several occasions.

  • by Steve Olenski Thu Jul 14, 2011 via blog

    Hi Steve,

    I read your article and left you a comment... LOVED IT! And yes, Bruce and Social Media are two of my faves, too... :)

  • by Steve Olenski Thu Jul 14, 2011 via blog

    Hi Bev,

    Thank you for the kind words... It was difficult to pick "only" these lyrics from the library of Springsteen songs!

    And he DEFINITELY has staying power... :)

  • by Steve Olenski Thu Jul 14, 2011 via blog

    Hi Jim,

    Absolutely a kindred spirit if you're a Bruce fan... :)

  • by Steve Olenski Thu Jul 14, 2011 via blog

    Well seeing how you didnt even use your real name, I'm not sure how much weight I can give to your comments, Mr. Serious or is that Mrs. Serious or Ms?

    Social media is all about being transparent, showing who you really are...

    And this was obviously a fun and playful way to integrate a great American songwriter/entertainer with social media...

    But hey, thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

  • by Steve Olenski Thu Jul 14, 2011 via blog

    Hi Scott,

    A fascinating angle you bring to the table... Your point is well taken re: Bruce and not creating that brand you speak of... obviously though he and his music have a brand, a very distinctive brand.

    You asked If someone has Bruce stickers all over their car – what does thay say about that person?

    Well when I think of Bruce Springsteen I think of words like American, Patriotism, the working man, passion, rising above obstacles, staying true to your beliefs...

    So would I think that about a person who had a Bruce bumper sticker on their car?

    To be honest, I'm not sure.

    Great, great feedback Scott and thank you for bringing it up... :)

  • by Steve Olenski Thu Jul 14, 2011 via blog

    Hi beachfly,

    I think Scott touched on Bruce and his own use of social media... be sure to read his comments!

    And thank you!

  • by Steve Olenski Thu Jul 14, 2011 via blog

    Hi eaon,

    Yeah that is indeed a GREAT line among many GREAT lines! :)

  • by Steve Olenski Thu Jul 14, 2011 via blog

    Tack för din kommentar och dela mitt inlägg!! :)

  • by dialashop Fri Jul 15, 2011 via blog

    Very creative way to talk about social media and using the songs as examples is a great way of understanding some of the concepts.

  • by Steve Olenski Mon Jul 18, 2011 via blog

    Thank you dialashop for your comments! Anytime I can incorporate Bruce into something is a good thing... :)

  • by Paul Wed Jul 20, 2011 via blog

    I love bruce and all of these songs, crazy how you can get great advice from the lyrics...RIP

  • by lawrence Sat Aug 6, 2011 via blog

    Steve, fun and informative piece. E Street Nation is in mourning with the passing of Clarence Clemons. We are looking for fans tributes here:

  • by Thea @ Pumps Australia Mon Aug 8, 2011 via blog

    Nice post! I have always been a fan of Bruce...those were the days. You stirred up quite a thread there. Remarkable approach, I could say you were successfully marketing Springteen in the light of the social media "hype."

  • by steve olenski Tue Aug 9, 2011 via blog

    Hi Paul,

    Not sure how "crazy" it is that you can glean great advice from lyrics... :) but any fellow Bruce lover is ok by me any day!!

    Steve O

  • by steve olenski Tue Aug 9, 2011 via blog

    "... don't think the writers were..." ??? cant read the rest of your comment but would love to know what was on your mind!

  • by steve olenski Tue Aug 9, 2011 via blog

    Hi Lawrence,

    Thanks for the kind words and I too, like the E Street Nation am still mourning the loss of The Big Man... RIP.

  • by steve olenski Tue Aug 9, 2011 via blog

    Hi Thea,

    Was surely not trying to "... market Springteen in the light of the social media “hype" but I thank you for the kind words!!!

  • by Debbie Bruce, Poststone Fri Sep 30, 2011 via blog

    A clever way to add some relevancy to social media. Can probably be done for most bands with popular lyrics, but it's a great way to make learning fun. Well done!

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