Wisdom Wednesdays: Are You Ready for Your (Social Media) Marathon? – Part 2

by Gretchen Jameson

In her last post, Gretchen discussed how implementing an effective social media strategy won’t happen overnight — it’s a marathon.  Read on in this week’s post as she outlines how to train for success.  

Here are three things to consider as you craft your Social Media Marathon Plan:

1. Fuel up

Making the decision to run a marathon isn’t just about clearing time in your schedule for more running.  Training requires research, planning and adopting a lifestyle that will allow you to fuel up, perform well and stay healthy.

Before you post one more status update or Tweet, make sure you understand your target (seriously, read that again … I’m talking about really understanding them, not just casting them into the script you’ve already written for how they “should” behave): what social platforms are they on?  Which ones do they plan to join?  Which ones do they trust?  Consider an absolute waste of time?  Fuel up with data and that data comes from listening to your audience and putting what you learn to work.

Spend time training your team, identifying the skills your staff or volunteers have that can be used effectively in your social media efforts and where there is a need for increased competency.  Read, read, read.

Prep your internal mindset for optimum social performance.  Social on the outside requires an appreciation for social on the inside of your nonprofit: your leadership, board members, staff.  Spend time building your case, gain more than buy-in for your plan.  Cultivate enthusiasm and trust as you champion the social media “run,” as well.

2. Keep your eyes on the prize

Not many of us jump out of bed and make it to 26.2 by running random mileage over the course of a random number of weeks.  Social media success isn’t random either.

You must write a plan.  You absolutely need to know where you are headed and how to recognize when you get there.

Your plan should focus on the next two quarters of your activity.  Solid plans include the goals for your social media engagement (and these should belly-up to your larger communications goals); measurable objectives (who will do what by when and how will we know we did it); clear strategies; appropriate tactics (sustainable, measurable, etc.); action plans (budget, timetable, assignments).

When we don’t plan, we cast social media as a fad and not as one of the most powerful communications tools at our disposal.  Treat social media with the same planned purpose as your direct mail, marketing communications, broadcast media, etc.  If you take it for granted in your planning, your CEO has every reason to doubt the efficacy of social media no matter how hard you try to convince him or her otherwise.

3. Give yourself time

None of us will have immediate success.  If I thought I could run 26.2 miles during my first or even second month of tMarathonraining, I am wasting my time at this entire endeavor and will wind up feeling defeated, sore and frustrated.

Similarly, trying to go 26.2 social-media-miles without spending time building up social media capital (your endurance), is unrealistic.  You’ve got to plan well, plan reasonably and be willing to give your efforts due time to pay off.  Doing this well requires managing expectations (particularly with your CEO or Director and your board members) and making sure that you’ve allocated appropriate resources (human and financial) to get the job done over the long haul.

So as you prepare for a long, hot summer (or are already well into it), dig into your social media routine.  Make some changes.  Deepen your practice.  Train for the marathon, and save the sprinting for your victory lap.

Gretchen Jameson is the Founder and Principal of purePR, a communications strategy firm focused on helping nonprofit clients amplify their mission messages.  Connect with her on Twitter or join purePR on Facebook.

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