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Want Social Media Results? Skip The Fad Diets

Strange confession: I love fad diet infomercials.

I don’t watch much televsion these days, but when I do, anything touting a miracle milkshake, exercise contraption, or weight-loss pill totally drags me in.  Those D-list celebrity spokespeople with their absurd tans and grinning insistence that “yes, now YOU can melt inches off your waistline in TWO days!” are pure comedy gold.

And don’t get me started on the phony tropical backdrops, smooth jazz soundtracks, and impossible, impossible claims. Rapid results. Return on investment overnight, “or your money back, guaranteed!”

It used to perplex me to imagine people actually buying into this stuff. But then social media marketing happened, and I realized we’re all looking for the same thing: instant gratification.

Social Media Diet Disappointment

In diets and marketing metrics, we often want to see measurable results, fast.  A jogging regiment could start improving your cholesterol and blood pressure within days, but if you don’t see the change to your waistline right away, it’s “not working”.

The same goes for social media marketing. So you tweet when you have time for it and reach out to Facebook followers here and again, but it’s been three weeks and you haven’t earned a single paying customer directly through one of your active platforms. Unbeknownst to you, momentum is building, and more and more users are becoming aware of your brand every day.  So what? The proof, you insist, is in the cash pudding.

But as Inkling Media inbound marketer Ken Mueller says, “social media is a long term proposition with a different type of ROI measurement.” He warns small business owners, “If you start using social media with the expectation of a rapid ROI, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment.”

There is no quick and easy way to social media “success”, just as there is no fad diet with the power and science to transform you into Hugh Jackman. Let’s accept this, and move on.

A Healthy Social Media Regiment

First, an attitude adjustment: “Social media isn’t a one-time advertising campaign that’s run-and-done,” says marketing expert Heidi Cohen.

“To reap social media results, businesses regardless of size must spend time engaging on social media, invest budget and wait for sales or other benefits.”

In other words, you need patience, strategy, and a regiment.

Go back to our diet comparison. In the Zen Habits article “A 12-Step Program to Eating Healthier Than Ever Before”, the author notes how fad diets “try to get you to change your entire diet at once,” propelling a drastic change in your lifestyle that is nearly impossible to sustain. You give up, and feel like a loser.

Even the thought of committing yourself to life-encompassing social media management strategy seems horrendous. And in practice, indeed it is.  Who are these small business owners with the time and motivation to go from zero engagement on Twitter to complete Twittersphere takeover? Do they even exist?

A better approach is to take small steps towards a realistic goal. So you want to increase Facebook post shares by 20% by next month? Start with a strategy, and determine the actions you will need to take to meet your goal. Those are measurable results, discovered over time.

Create an “easy-to-implement routine you can stick to,” says Cohen. That way, social media management will be, well, manageable.

Forbes contributor Michale Brenner says, “do whatever works for you and be realistic.”

Ultimately, do something social every day. Brenner believes in what he calls the “Social Media Imperative” – wherein we live in a social world and only social businesses will win.

Baby Steps to Social Routine

It might be a single tweet. One tweet a day, that’s where you start in your social media management routine.

Within two weeks, you might discover the convenience of checking your Twitter account on your smart phone while you drink your afternoon coffee. You could be surprised to find time left over to browse LinkedIn groups. Next week, you just might decide to commit one LinkedIn group comment or content share per day.

And so it grows.

Small adjustments to your daily routine build results over time. And those results depend on how you define success for your social media strategy. What do you hope to gain?

Let us know – we can help set you up for a realistic social media management routine. No smooth jazz. No Chuck Norris.

“A 12-Step Program To Eating Healthier Than Ever Before.” 20 February 2013.
Brenner, Michael. “How Do You Find The Time For Social Media?” 3 April 2013.
Cohen, Heidi. “Social Media: 3 Tactics to Create Your Daily Routine.” 29 May 2013.
Mueller, Ken. “5 Things I Wish Small Businesses Understood About Social Media.” 8 May 2013. Business2Community

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