Vanessa Sumpmann, Social Media Manager at Seventy Nine, talks about how she discovered running her first full marathon and her job have a lot of shared traits.
‘Keep on smiling, keep on smiling’ the woman on the side of the road keeps on repeating as my breathing becomes heavier and heavier.
We are at mile 19 of my first marathon and smiling is the last thing on my mind. Nevertheless, inspired by her positive mindset I manage to break out a little smile.
In reality, it probably looks nothing more than an amicable flashing of my teeth. This was the best I could muster given the circumstances.
She does her best to smile back acknowledging that this part of the race is no longer down to legs. I had reached the point that was drilled into me during my training that we needed to dig deeper to make it out on top.
A simple mind trick like putting on a smile, despite being in agony does the trick for now. The line between easy and simple is not a fine one, I begin to realise. But what does all of this have to do with social media you might wonder?
The difference between easy and simple.
To sign up for a marathon is simple. Fill out an online form, pay the fee and voila. What comes next is to simply train for the most strenuous of distances. This means running consistently 3-4 times a week; two short sessions, one quick and one long run. Again, this looks easy on paper, but with other commitments like work, family and friends simply sticking to the plan becomes a challenge.
In the world of social media which is part of my professional commitments, I am often faced with a similar discrepancy. Swap running for simply producing engaging content consistently and soon business owners, marketing managers will realise that their resources are limited. Time, creative, monitoring and staying on top of the latest social media developments are a few of the many challenges social media marketing.
Posting consistently about news, products or awareness days relevant to the brand is not won in a sprint, it is a marathon.
Consistency is key
Consistency is the daughter of patience and focus. The average runner trains for at least on year before starting the marathon training. The training itself lasts just about four months.
Since I got injured just three weeks before my first marathon in April, I had the pleasure to embark on eight months of marathon training before finishing my very first marathon. This might have been my biggest lesson on patience so far. Combining consistency with flexibility has been the key to my training plan.Similarly, consistency is the live blood of social media. To keep social channels alive and well, meeting the expectations of fans and followers is crucial. This means posting consistently. Having a plan e.g. posting a mix of product, lifestyle and industry news is the backbone to any social media strategy.
At the same time, a degree of flexibility allowing brands to spontaneously react to sudden events is equally important. Dunkin Donuts, for example, build a social media campaign around the snap election earlier this year. The #snackelection campaign was a social media-driven vote aiming to introduce a new donut to the brand.
Experimenting and making sense of the data
One of the biggest challenges has been to figure out how far I could possibly push my body. To be able to make an accurate assessment, I started to track my training data.
Looking at my weekly progress in each training segment allowed me to forecast my overall goal. The data however is only the bottom line, developing an awareness for the different kinds of pains and strains is just as important. Warm and fuzzy means I am good to go, sharp and sudden is a warning signal, that should not be dismissed. I learned the hard way.
In the spheres of social media my advice is to check your qualitative and quantitative data. The latter helps to set your short-, mid- and long-term goals and allows you to put a price tag on paid campaigns.
Allowing some time to experiment in the beginning identifying which format works best for you. An analysis of qualitative data means staying in touch with brand image and identity.
The subjective reality check could consist of an analysis of customer feedback on social channels, identifying posts that were most relevant. This way brands can avoid pitfalls like failing to stay relevant.
Visualising success and setting milestones
The last tip takes us back to the race course. Picture yourself at mile 20. One the one hand it seems appropriate to visualise success, to once again remind myself that I am here to cross the finish line.
The problem with this mindset is that it skips all the miles in between and lets my mind jump to mile 26.2- a dangerous thought at this point. Instead, I focus on the next mile; I exactly visualise the length of a mile and force myself to only think about what the course is going to look like for that mile.
In terms of social media, it makes sense to set ambitious goals. At the same time, knowing how exactly you will get there requires milestones. A milestone could be to create a community of engaged followers, who are looking forward to hearing from your brand.
A different milestone could be to convert a follower into a customer. It makes sense to revisit the overall goal and see if it can be broken down. This way it is easier to figure out where on the journey to social media greatness we stand.
If you want to talk social media, or even discuss marathon tips, please feel free to contact me. email@example.com or call me 0116 319 0990