I made the effort last night to put in an appearance at my gym for a bit of overdue exercise. I find that if I make a regular effort I can maintain a healthy level of fitness and if I put in even more effort, I can even increase my fitness fairly easily. On the other hand, if I pull out for a while, even a week, the fitness level plummets and I seem to need triple the effort to get back to where I was.
Okay, I’ve telegraphed this blog message already – translated to your marketing and communications effort, maintaining the effort pays dividends in similar ways.
But there’s a bit more to it than that. Traditional media methods could mean that big bursts of activity were okay. But online and new media requires constant attention – every day is best.
A couple of years ago I adopted a ‘physical training’ analogy for the disciplines involved in successful social media activity. I needed something to demonstrate how an initial desire to engage in social media activity would never be enough if there was no understanding of how it could work for a client, which would inevitably translate into a lack of motivation to make disciplined and long term commitments to the fitness regime.
While it didn’t work for all clients, it certainly worked on those who were willing to give it the initial time and effort so that it could develop into a powerful habit.
So these are the three factors I advocate for social media (and communications) success, which you could use for your physical fitness... or your social media programmes.
1. Visualise how success will look and assume that you will be successful. This is an absolute visualisation; not an if, but or maybe. Part of this is straight forward goal setting but it’s also about the real outcomes you desire for your organisation.
2. Create a social media programme like you’d train to be fit. Aerobic fitness gives stamina to keep going no matter what. That’s about making sure the resources are always available and committed. Anaerobic fitness builds the power to move you to where you want to be. Building your numbers and powerful engagement is key. Flexibility is another form of strength but it also allows you to react quickly and appropriately to bend to many different situations.
3. Go to the social media gym every day, even when you don’t quite feel like it. Even a little applied often is much better than a lot applied infrequently.
I guess I very often find myself working with my clients rather like a gym trainer. It works well for those who genuinely seek its rewards. It doesn’t work so well if the inclination to work hard is simply not there.
ADVISOR: How to plan a strategy
Fraser Carson is a respected communications and social media consultant, and commentator. He has particular experience and interest in community building, the not-for-profit sector and business development.