When I first started consulting clients on social media a number of years ago, most of the companies I encountered were new to the space. But that’s less often the case these days.
Now, most of the clients I work with have been down the social road before, usually with a large firm or agency guiding them. And they hit a roadblock on their journey that they were unable to move past. So, my job is to analyze this roadblock and to remove it.
More often than not, the roadblock is that the client was sold a social media strategy designed primarily to make them feel comfortable and in control at all times. One that assured them that…
- If you upload a spreadsheet of posts to HootSuite and syndicate it to all your social platforms, you will be successful.
- If you blog about topics using these three optimized keyword terms and post on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, you will be successful.
- If you build a network with influencers with Klout scores above 50, you will be successful.
But nothing in social media is that simple. Mostly because much of your success in social media is dependent upon you (or a team of yous at a company). Not your tools. Not your content calendar. Not your network. YOU.
Social media is about engaging in conversations. And, in actual conversations, you are not in control of both sides of the engagement, confidently directing each exchange to the conclusion that serves you best.
Being social, whether it is online or off-line, is about give and take — which is an uncomfortable proposition involving the unknown, the unpredictable and the uncontrollable.
But, no company wants to buy a messy proposition like that. They want to buy a simple formula for social success where you don’t have to think a whole lot and will get the most return for the least investment of time and resources.
Which leaves people like me in the same position as health coaches that are trying to sell weight loss based on the less-than-glamorous premise that to achieve it, you must actually exercise and eat less.
In order to achieve success in anything, you must move through discomfort. You can’t simply step around it.
But, this is a message none of us ever want to hear.
As Buddhist nun Pema Chödrön says, “what keeps us unhappy and stuck in a limited view of reality is our tendency to seek pleasure and avoid pain, to seek security and avoid groundlessness, to seek comfort and avoid discomfort.”
The first generation of companies who subscribed to this approach to social media are indeed finding themselves unhappy and stuck. They chose a path to take themselves somewhere, and seem surprised that that somewhere didn’t end up being amazing, productive, or profitable.
They stepped around their discomfort only to find it still waiting for them on the other side.