Is Social Media a Marathon or a Sprint? – by Christopher Ryan

 I have seen a repeated pattern when it comes to using social media in B2B marketing.  A company executive or marketing manager drinks the social media Kool-Aid and decides to make it a big part of their pull marketing strategy.  The next thing you know, he or she is posting, tweeting, responding, bookmarking and otherwise fully engaged in every social networking outlet they can find.  This goes on for a few weeks or months until the person quits when they figure out the social media didn’t produce much results in terms of generating awareness, leads and revenue.  This is the classical “sprint” scenario.

But actually, good social media is more like a marathon than a sprint.  When I decided to my one and only marathon, I read every book I could find on the general topic of “How a middle-age slow guy can survive 26.2 miles.”  The most important lesson I learned was that the fast starters are seldom the fast finishers (elite athletes excluded).  The idea is to resist the urge to start out quickly and rather pick up the pace as you proceed through the race.  In other words, start slowly and finish strong. If you do this correctly you finish the race in a decent time without killing yourself. 

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This principle also applies to social media.  When we get our Fusion Marketing Partners clients started in social media, it is usually with a plan that starts on a slow pace and increases over time.  For example, we will set up a schedule that includes blogging every other week, plus one daily Twitter tweet and two LinkedIn postings (one to update the company’s or individual’s status and the other to respond or post to a discussion group).  This is not an onerous schedule and can be completed in a few minutes per day.  Over time, the schedule of blog postings, Twitter activity and LinkedIn activity can increase, and we can start folding in additional social media outlets.  As you gain more experience with social media, you will find that you are able to generate more activity with less time.

 As I talked about in an earlier blog post, you can definitely generate awareness, leads and revenue with social media.  But it is seldom an overnight path to pull marketing success. You usually have to gain your followers and establish your reputation over a period of time.  You will be best rewarded by approaching your social media adventures as a marathon, instead of a sprint.

Happy New Year.

Christopher Ryan
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  • Diana Smith January 6, 2011   Reply →

    Once the blogging honeymoon is over and the daily grind sets in, the fact that there is just work to do makes it like a marathon. There are many good points in this blog. Thanks Chris!

  • Bill Gadless January 6, 2011   Reply →

    Such a great point you’re making here Chris. Especially since the start of the recession, marketers seem to generally be under the pressure to make EVERYTHING happen instantly. (mostly a result of their CEO’s demanding results, with no realistic knowledge of what’s involved) Your advice for marketers to take a baby-step approach is most palatable, and certainly better than nothing. Unfortunately, we see too many marketers give up on things they chalk up as “fads” if they can’t do it for a couple of weeks and suddenly see contracts flying in.

  • Tina January 10, 2011   Reply →

    Great point Chris. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon and people have to remember that is takes time to build a community of followers. Be patient!

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