I read recently that social media is like online dating in that you need to start somewhere to find your “soul mate”.
It’s an interesting analogy, and in the spirit of things, here’s another “dating” angle: if you want be successful at social media avoid the start and stop.
By that, I mean getting all hot and heavy about social media, and then suddenly stopping altogether or doing it infrequently. It is like dating someone on a regular basis, and then you stop calling them.
Far too many companies spend too much time putting together social media strategic and tactical plans, before launching themselves into the services they have selected with lots of enthusiasm and good intention. The problem is that after a few weeks or months, the novelty wears off and social media fatigue sets in.
Rather than being exciting, social media becomes a drag because it has to be steadily supported to be successful. There’s no holidays or breaks in the action.
Unfortunately, many companies hit the wall before deciding it’s not worth the effort. They make the investment to get started but fail at execution, which is the secret sauce to social media success.
The problem is once you stop, it’s hard to get started again. Once the initial momentum disappears, that can be the end of the story. At the same time, people who have been following you on social media start to walk away. And much like breaking up with someone, it can be difficult, if not impossible to get them back.
So how do you avoid the dreaded “start and stop” syndrome?
1. Be realistic about how much content can be produced. If it’s only one blog post/week or a tweet a day or a Facebook update a day, that’s fine as long as what you’re doing is engaging, educational or entertaining. It’s better to do less than more if doing less means it happens on a consistent basis. There are no points for writing five blog posts in a week, and then not doing any for several weeks.
2. Dedicate the appropriate resources to make social media happen on a regular basis. Even if you’re freeing someone up for a couple hours a day, that will make it clear about what can be done.
3. Have a social media champion or evangelist who can constantly lead the charge. This person can be a cheerleader, promoter, content creator or marketer. They just need to be the person who makes sure social media stays alive and well.
4. Don’t get discouraged by the lack of early success. Truth be told, there are few overnight success stories in social media. For most companies, being successful (however success defined) takes months of hard work and effort. The results may not happen immediately but they will happen in time.
5. Feed off other people’s energy and ideas. Attend conferences, participate in Webinars, read blog posts by people who are passionate about social media. In other words, motivate yourself by embracing social media and learning as much as you can about what works and what doesn’t. It’s difficult to be successful at social media if you stick a toe in the water. Instead, jump right in.