Why social media strategy is like weight loss

Recently, I was listening to a friend bemoan her weight loss woes, a few weeks into a new, healthy lifestyle. Her concern? Results. Why wasn’t she seeing them faster? How long was it going to take? How long was she going to have to keep up her new habits?

She knows, as I do, that change takes time. Learning new habits takes time; liking them can take even longer.

In my role as Chief Love Officer here at Small Act, it’s my job to care for our clients well, and manage our client work. I talk to our clients every day about social media strategy. Whether a large, complex organization or a two-person shop, everyone’s questions are similar: how long will it take me to understand what I’m doing with social media? How long am I going to have to keep doing it? How long will it take to see results? And will the results merit the cost of investing in social media?

Clients want me to, in effect, hand over a diet pill for social media. To some degree, we (or other awesome consultants) can do that. If we’re good at our jobs, we speed up the learning curve for our clients, help them demonstrate results, and do so in a relatively short time frame in many cases. One example at Small Act was our work on Restrepo, a National Geographic film we promoted through social media that got terrific results. Another example is Old Spice, who has been much-lauded for putting together one of the best social media campaigns we’ve seen yet, with tremendous results, including a 107% increase in sales and mimic campaigns by the folks at Blendtec (campaign gurus in their own right).  There are other examples here of other vibrant, creative, buzz-worthy campaigns that have achieved big objectives (revenues, buzz, following) for companies and causes.

And yet, I wonder: how will Old Spice and others continue to use the traction they’ve gained to achieve their ongoing marketing goals?

Like a diet pill doesn’t replace healthy living over the long haul, short-term social media campaigns (as powerful as they may be) don’t replace a solid, comprehensive, goal-oriented social media strategy.

Where do you begin? Start with some simple questions. Why are you doing social media in the first place? What do you want to accomplish? Who is your audience? Who needs to be on board? And who can help you get there?

Then, when you have that “this isn’t working” moment, like with a diet, take a deep breath, refocus on your goals, troubleshoot, and remember that this is a lifestyle change, not a diet pill. And change, while tough, is rewarding, and even (dare I say it?) fun. You can do it!