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Before you take the next step of using social media for business purposes, realize that it’s a life sentence. Not unlike needing to take anti-rejection medications every day for life after receiving a liver transplant, the same thing goes for social media-for-business: in order for it to work, you need to commit to doing it not just for the next six-months but for the next sixty-years. Every day.

Don’t’ Freak Out

forest-gump1So, every morning, you need to line up your day: your daily dose of azathioprine, your daily blog post, your daily tweets, your daily pins, your daily Facebook posts, and your daily dose of comments, responses, retweets, reports, favorites, and the like. Like your Imuran and Azasan, your social media content is your daily bread and not just a special treat.

Don’t Freak Out

The good news is that while social media is, indeed, a life-sentence, it’s not solitary confinement, not like writing a novel could be — or maintaining the weekly newsletter for your company. That’s a life sentence without any real feedback loop. At least social media is a two-way street.

Are You Chilling Out?

Forrest_map_redraw_660One of the reasons why I have been harping on this is because I meet people every day who wash out of social media, be it blogging or general social media content marketing. Washing out because they burst out of the block in a sprint when what they need to do is take it easy because social media is even longer than an ultramarathon, it’s more like the run that Forrest Gump took, covering 19,024 miles over 1,169 days with an average of 16-miles-per-day.

Fortune-Teller Chris Reads the Tea Leaves

fortunetellerYou, neophyte content marketer, beginner business blogger, tiny tweeter, petite Plussers, fascinated Facebooker, will jump-in feet-first, pour all of your time and attention into it, loose yourself into the bottomless pit of want known as social, and then become exhausted, dejected, ignored, unfulfilled, and spent with nothing to show for it — well before your half-year anniversary. It’ll be a pity, too, because the six-month mark is just about when most brands start getting a little bit of traction.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

THSo, it all comes down to my years of experience with social media marketing, content marketing, and digital PR: it’s better to start slow, cheat a little, maybe even schedule tweets, outsource some stuff, hire a community manager or two, and don’t exhaust yourself before you even find your page for the long run.

Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day

And neither will your online business. While my analogy isn’t based on Rome, per se, it’s about a city, of sorts: the undersea reef!

dive_sites_debbie_wreckIn a previous life, I was a Divemaster. Being a Divemaster is a little like being a teaching assistant. When you’re a professional diver, you really love beautiful reefs, rife with underwater flora and fauna, from eels to anemones, from sharks to crabs, and from groupers to sea turtles.

Dive sites are the bread and butter of scuba diving. There are only so many reefs encircling Oahu, Hawaii. So, reef-building’s all the rage. Let’s use the analogy of creating a reef! The way most people do it is by sinking old ships. The ships act as a catalyst for the reef: someplace safe amid a sandy bottom. And, sinking the ship is only the first step towards creating a reef. No matter how much work you put into making your new reef a perfect home for fish, coral, and beasties, nothing happens without time.

You need to do all the work you can up front, it’s true, but after you’ve done all you can, you just need to give all the sea creatures, spores, eggs, ova, babies, loners, and the territorial homeless a chance to discover their future new home — and even more time to allow them to become secure enough with stability and security of this new oasis to commit.

Undersea-dwellers (and social media followers, friends, Likers, pinners, and commenters) really have a hard time committing. In a world of temporary reefs, denizens are twitchy, once-bitten-twice-shy, and commitment-phobic. And we know, now, why that is, too: online communities, social media brands, Twitter accounts, and the like are both hard work and a life commitment and too many social media denizens have been burnt, abandoned, and stiffed in the past.

And, mostly, just because brands tend to initially be hot-and-heavy and then lose their mojo before too long, leaving all the vertebrates and invertebrates exposed and vulnerable. The ones that survive are distrustful and leery of committing ever again. And, at the end of the day, if you can be the stable, life-long parental figure that your community needs of you, even if you don’t offer them the world right away (please, don’t burn out right away! Warning, warning!), keeping consistent, persistent, loving, and supportive, over time, is the best thing you can ever offer your brand community.

9781782550068One final analogy before I finish up comes from my favorite running coach: Jeff Galloway. He’s the guy who recommends that runners build walking into their training — intentionally. He developed the Run-Walk-Run method for training for the marathon. It’s interval training. Where one intentionally schedules walking into their training so that they never quite become exhausted. That it’s much better to take some recovery breaks than run out of steam. What makes the Galloway method so powerful is that walking is built-in and an empowered part of training and not just an inability to keep running. That one’s way more likely to finish the marathon with a few recovery breaks than powering through and falling apart at mile 20, 6.21875 miles too soon!

Always remember, slow and steady wins the race; even more, remember: slow, steady, and walking wins the race!

Most folks get into blogging and social media all hot-and-heavy and burn out within the first month — don’t be that guy. Become the thousand-year city and not the traveling carnival. Now, it’s your turn!

Go git ‘em, Tiger!

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Chris Abraham

About Chris Abraham

A pioneer in online social networks and publishing, with a natural facility for anticipating the next big thing, Chris is an Internet analyst, web strategy consultant and advisor to the industries' leading firms. He specializes in Web 2.0 technologies, including content syndication; organize search engine optimization (SEO), online reputation management (ORM), content marketing, online collaboration, blogging, and consumer generated media.

2 replies to this post
  1. Great advice, Chris. marketers, in particular, are accustomed to the campaign mentality in which results are expected within the first few days. The problem with campaigns is that the half-life is very short and they must be resurrected each time they’re launched. Social authority, on the other hand, is an annuity whose payoff grows as you build it.

    I see so many blogs abandoned after just a few months, and I share your view. People often cut their losses just when the returns are about to begin.

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