The Hardest Part Of Social Media

Mitch JoelPosted by

Some people can’t handle how much content there is out there. Others are scared to open up because of what people might say about their products and services. Then there are those who simply think all of this Social Media stuff is just a fad.

There are a million excuses as to why companies don’t engage in these online channels, and the line starts behind the ROI (Return On Investment). In the end, every argument in the world is not going to change the fact that consumers have never been more connected to information and to one another, and that’s not going to change. The platforms may evolve. We may all become more mobile with our digital usage, but the technology is going to keep getting faster and easier to use. Regardless of us not being able to keep pace with the changes from a business perspective, even those who are highly engaged rarely talk about what is, ultimately, the hardest part of Social Media…

The commitment.

Many businesses get attracted by the latest shiny object (from Blogging and Podcasting to iPhone apps and Twitter), but fail to realize the commitment – in time, effort and output – that makes for successful programs and initiatives. To this day, many clients are looking for ways to use Social Media to "add 50,000 people to our database in the next four month" or "lead the conversation about our brand in the next year." There is no pixie dust and there is no magic formula.

Hard work alone is not even enough.

You can work hard, you can post often, you follow everyone who is following you, you can use all of the Social Media monitoring tools out there, you can upload the coolest videos and you can keep on rattling off activities to add to this list, but all will fail unless you (and the team backing you up) are truly committed to creating, engaging and being a part of these very real interactions for a very long time to come.

The truth is there may not be a finish line.

The question should not be: "when do you find the time for all of us this stuff?" because if you truly are committed to being successful, you will always find the time for the things that are important to you (and your success). The commitment is not easy. There are days when you will question why you ever ventured down this road in the first place, and then there will be days when you’ll be smiling at the amazing opportunities that have come your way, while your competitors are still asking the same question that opened up this last paragraph.

If you’re going to do any of this stuff, please take the time to really focus on what your commitment is going to be, and how dedicated you will be to staying the course for the long haul.

62 comments

  1. Agree completely. It is a marathon not a sprint. It take more than setting up an account and assigning some junior person to update it periodically. It takes engagement and it takes it from senior level peeps. Thanks for the good post!
    Smoke

  2. I agree. People assume this is a one time thing which won’t take much time at all. There is a lot of research and you don’t want to be posting stuff and shouting at people who will tune you out. You need to know your audience and the only way to do that is to engage.

  3. Were you listening in on my conversation I had with a relative today? Took the words straight out of my mouth! Needed to hear those words from another person to confirm it. Agreed that this is a marathon, not a sprint.

  4. I don’t even think it’s a marathon as even that ends! It’s got to be a good habit you get into and never stop doing. Good article.

  5. Great article, Mitch! I prefer to think of it as a friendship that needs to be nurtured, but I totally agree that you need to make a commitment to that friendship in order for it to succeed.

  6. For corporations, it’s important that an overall strategy be developed. Once the strategy is defined, and it need not take for ages, the right people need to be given the right tools and opportunities to truly innovate and engage with customers (and just as important, potential customers) via social media.

  7. I find people still think of social media as strictly a marketing/pr function, or only to be used for a specific campaign. The hard part is helping organizations understand that social media should be integrated into every department.

  8. I agree with Marc Hill. This is not the marketing medium in isolation. Social media affects a company’s reputation and its operations. It necessitates the organization need to change its thinking to include ongoing customer engagement and involvement.

  9. And all of this is why I love social media. I’ve been trying to figure out why I love this so much, why I am at home on my computer Saturday night rather than go see friends sometimes, why I love having internet connection anywhere I go. It’s because this field is truly challenging.
    Hard work gets you so far. Creativity takes you farther.

  10. Great sensibilty expressed here. I think it’s a family member, maybe a brother or sister. Sometimes you’re close, sometimes you drift apart, but it’s a relationship that tests the c word.

  11. Amen. I’m trying to alert the businesses that I work with that it’s no longer their decision — their customers and the market have already decided. They can either be connected with their customers and market or eventually be irrelevant. And while there is, most definitely, a time commitment – the time spent on SM would be 100X more efficient, meaningful, critical than the majority of activities that they are clinging to.

  12. Agree with the post and everyone here. As someone who’s just learning the ropes, I’ve been faced with just how much of a commitment social media truly is. And Mitch, you bring up a great point, a team backing you up makes all the difference.

  13. Committment from the entire team is hard to get when you’re working to convince a lot of senior managers in medium sized businesses.
    I’ve found that even if you can get the boss on board it takes a lot to win over the other staff. Here in Sweden where we’re very used to social media there’s still the attitude of “it’s not real work” to it from quite a lot of the people I’m meeting in companies.
    Guess it’s just a case of rolling up those sleeves and carrying on.

  14. Great post. Really it’s about relationship building right? What’s the point in a relationship if you can’t commit to making it successful? Relationships are work and they take time, but good ones pay off in a myriad of ways.
    My own take is make sure you’re committed but not OVER committed to a bunch of tools/platforms/networks you can’t possible support over the long haul.

  15. I agree with Smoke here – it’s certainly a marathon and not a sprint. As is the case with most things where there it’s next to no set up fees (blogs, SEO, social media etc) apart from hiring people to do these activities for you if you choose that path.
    You need to have a good strategy from the start otherwise it will be efforts which are wasted.

  16. To quote “The truth is there may not be a finish line.” Is superb. The internet is so fluid. Here I sit 12.30 am and throughout the day i question myself! Where is the beginning and where is the end! I’m quite new to social media. I wish i was around in the beginning. To put it simply. He who has the biggest network wins! In the end the ‘system’ be sustained by auto-responders! While everybody else goes back to living breathing and having a physical, nice life. Oh yeah! Great article..i’ll bookmark it into my virtual filing cabinet! http://bit.ly/13cKiS

  17. To add more, social media requires effort to set up and develop. To create group, spread articles, or make people vigorously engaged in what you’re offering requires a lot of effort. Promoting and press releases may require commitment in executing every campaign. Social media is not just a campaign that whenever a plan is carried out, it’s done. Keep in mind that social media is a long-term approach wherein you have to continuously devote more of your time in creating and spreading your campaigns.

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