Every time I hand someone a strategic plan I get a little sad.
Not because the project is over (I’m usually pretty happy about that.)
Mostly it’s because – if I’ve done my job right – at that moment I’m staring face-to-face with a client who has a little spark in their eyes that seems to be saying, “Awesome. Now we are done.”
Then, like a oncologist looking at a suspicious mass on a CT scan, I have to be the bad guy and say to them, “Know what? Actually the hard part has just begun.”
This is particularly confusing when the client and I are talking about strategies for social media.
This stuff just looks so darn easy. They figure that once I give them a roadmap, some pretty apps and some technical partners to support them, they’re all set up for “strategic success.”
But what I CAN’T give them (and what they’ll need most to succeed), is the “social” part. That part they have to do themselves.
And that’s going to take some work.
There…I said it…successful marketing using social media takes work: dedicated, frequent, thoughtful and innovative work done by someone with some sort of interest and investment in your social circle and your brand.
(so, no…it’s not a good idea to outsource this stuff to a “Twitter intern.”)
Writing this blog post took some work. Sending a tweet out later to share with my network that it’s posted will take some work. Finding the time to read and respond to comments that are posted in reply will take some work.
And it’s going to cost some money.
(Man, I’m just full of fun news today, aren’t I?)
Because while I’m blogging and tweeting and replying, I’m using my billable time. I’m making a choice to invest my time in people and relationships and that may produce a (possibly career-transforming) return on investment down the road…or, just as easily, they may not.
So why bother?
First, It’s about the most fun work you can snag these days.
If you are using social media as a marketing or public relations tool – and you are using it effectively – you won’t feel like a human press release feed, “socially” distributing lame marketing spam to the masses. Instead your job will be to have relationships – share stories, listen to concerns, offer advice, (and yes, from time to time, share your salesy news.)
If you make the process a habit, build a network based on authenticity and genuine interest in others and treat each social contact as the prime client engagement vehicle that it should be, you actually might have a delightful time.
Secondly, the stuff you put work into will last longer and ultimately have more value.
Look at weight loss. There are a million books, plans, tools and services out there that are essentially designed to avoid smacking you over the head with the cold hard reality of the matter: if you want to lose weight, you need to eat less and move more.
No one really wants to hear that.
But the ones who do, and who accept it, are the ones who lose the weight and KEEP it off.
Same holds true for this “micro marketing” approach. Do the work, do it well and avoid being an ass while you’re doing it, and it will work.
Even better, it will deliver benefits to your doorstep that you could have never planned for.
And that, my friends, is the thing that puts a spark into my eyes.