5 Reasons (and 5 Tips) Businesses Need to Exercise Their Social Media Muscle

by Ken Mueller on September 16, 2011 · 21 comments

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97lb weakling 300x257 5 Reasons (and 5 Tips) Businesses Need to Exercise Their Social Media MuscleAs I navigate this still nascent thing we call Social Media, especially as someone who works with businesses to help them build an online presence, I find myself pondering how many of us approach Social Media, especially Twitter.

I see a lot of abandoned accounts. I see “marketers” and agencies offering Social Media packages that include “one tweet per week” or “five tweets per week”. And I scratch my head. Do we really think that works? Does it make a difference?

Then I started thinking of analogies, and had some conversations with a few people about this, including my friends Rachel Strella and Andi Cumbo, and the thought that came to me was that when you approach Social Media tentatively; when you approach it half-heartedly, you miss out on the benefits.

In fact, you might be doing more harm than good, in that you THINK you are “engaged in Social Media”, when in fact you really aren’t.

Think about it: five tweets a week.

That’s one per day, Monday through Friday.

And then I made the leap from Twitter and Social Media to working out, and this is what popped into my head:

One tweet per day is the equivalent of doing one jumping jack per day.

If you were to start working out and exercising, would you be satisfied with one jumping jack per day?

And would just doing one jumping jack every day do anything for you?

Here are several reasons why you need to commit to exercising your Social Media muscle:

1. If you don’t, you’ll never get healthy – Any doctor will tell you that in order to get and stay healthy you need to get some form of exercise. For me, this is mostly a good 2-mile walk with the dog everyday. Not much, but it’s something. Just sitting back and doing nothing isn’t the healthiest of options. I’m not saying Social Media is for everyone, but I do believe that if it is used properly, and is approached with the proper mindset, it can help your business become healthier.

2. If you don’t, you’ll atrophy – You know the old saying: use it or lose it. Not using your muscles doesn’t mean you’ll maintain the status quo. You’ll actually get less healthy as your muscles atrophy. You will lose tone and functionality. Again, Social Media might not be for everyone, but the same old marketing methods might not work as well as they used to. Things are much different now than they were twenty years ago, let alone three years ago. The tools of Social Media are there at your disposal. Take advantage of them so that you don’t fall behind. One of my pet peeves is businesses that don’t even have websites yet, particularly restaurants. If I can’t find you online and get the information about you that I need, chances are I won’t be sending any business your way. Atrophy.

3. If you don’t, you’ll get sand kicked in your face by someone who does – Remember the old Charles Atlas ads, where the 90-pound weakling got sand kicked in his face by the buff dude? You might not be exercising your Social Media muscle, but your competition is. While they are improving, you might be falling behind. Social Media can give you an advantage over others who aren’t using it (or using it properly). Tap into that. If others exercise those muscles, and you don’t, you’ll be the 90-pound weakling.

4. If you don’t, you’ll never get that hot guy or girl – OK, maybe you don’t want that hot guy or girl, but you do want customers. In order to attract customers you need to be…well…attractive! Exercising can help you tone and shape your body. By exercising your Social Media muscle

5. If you don’t, that muscle you have will turn to fat – One of the worst things you can do is to start exercising, and then stop. If you build muscle, and then stop, apparently that muscle can turn to fat, or so I’ve been told. Don’t start something if you don’t plan on following through. This is one of the problems with Social Media. The tools are free, and it seems easy to start. Too easy. Because you can just start, and then keep it on the backburner. And it stays on the backburner. And then you’re stuck with a Twitter profile, or Facebook page, that looks as though it should be covered in cobwebs. Never just jump into Social Media because “it’s there”. You need to have a plan in place to carry it through. It’s not something you try, it’s something you do.

Having said that, here are six tips to help you better exercise your Social Media muscle:

1. Start slow -No just gets up and runs a marathon. You start by running shorter distances, building up your endurance, and eventually getting to the point where you can run a 5k, 10k, half-marathon, etc. You do NOT need to jump in to every social platform out there and just go nuts. Don’t start by blogging every day. You’ll most likely never be able to maintain. Start with one post per week, and once you get the feel for it, move up to twice a week. Don’t jump into Twitter and just start tweeting 24/7. Sign up and watch. Listen. Then slowly jump into the conversations once you get a feel for it. Everyone has their own pace. Find yours and build up to a comfortable level that works for both you and your customers. Remember, one jumping jack a day might be a good start, but it won’t get you anywhere over time.

2. Make the commitment -I talk about this a lot. Like anything else in your business, Social Media is a commitment. Map out a plan. Figure out where you are going to start, and where you want to be a month, 6-months, a year down the road. It’s not a campaign. There is no expiration date. Once you decide to do it, you need to follow through. Nothing worse than seeing a neglected blog or Social Media page. In my mind that’s the equivalent of a storefront with chipped paint and broken glass. It tells your customers that you don’t care about your brand. Make the commitment and stick with it for the long haul.

3. Work through the pain – The hardest part of exercise of any sort is getting started. I’ve been told that for anything to “stick” you need to work at it for about 3-weeks before it becomes a habit. If you start lifting weights or running, you’ll be using muscles you haven’t really used before. There will be pain. You’ll get to a point where you just want to stay in bed or find something else to do. Believe me, I’ve been there a hundred times in my life. And I usually give up. But if you can stick with it, and work through the pains and difficulties of the early stages of Social Media, it will suddenly click. In fact, not only will it become a habit, but it will become fun. Runners love to run. In some cases it’s an addiction of sorts. You need to get to the point where you love Social Media, and it is no longer work.

4. Cross-train – One thing any personal trainer or doctor will tell you is to mix it up. If you are lifting weights, you need to work on different muscles and different types of lifting each day, rather than doing the same thing over and over. You want to be fit and well rounded, not just buff in one area. How you use Social Media today might change for tomorrow. Doing the same thing over and over gets old, both for you and your customers. Mix it up. Add variety to how you do things. Don’t be one-dimensional.

5. Don’t expect overnight results – If you run or work out, odds are you’ll wake up the next morning looking exactly the same, and weighing exactly the same, as you did the day before. And maybe even the next day. When you create a television commercial, you can sit back, look at it, and be proud. And you may even see some results rather quickly. But there is no real satisfaction for an amazing tweet. One status update on Facebook won’t have thousands of customers beating down your door. This is SOCIAL media. The idea is to be social. Social isn’t something you do once. It continues. You build it and cultivate it. If you approach it with the proper mindset, you WILL see the results, but this will more than likely be a cumulative thing that happens over time, not overnight. All the more reason to stick with it. Eventually you’ll look back and be amazed at the progress you have made.

Are you ready to exercise your Social Media muscle? What tips do you have to help other stick with it and become healthier?

 

 5 Reasons (and 5 Tips) Businesses Need to Exercise Their Social Media Muscle
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17 comments
AmandaFunk
AmandaFunk

This is amazing! Thank you for putting it into terms everyone can relate to, tech savvy individuals AND their counterparts that want to learn but don't know where to start!

KDillabough
KDillabough

Ah, you had me at "one jumping jack" and "exercise" Ken:) As a former Olympic coach, nothing makes me smile more than an analogy to sports and training!

Love the reasons, but I'll share a little secret...muscle doesn't turn to fat, so whoever told you that is full of beans:) But the concepts are so spot on. And I think your 6 tips should be required reading and pasted on everyone's wall, especially the making a plan and working through the pain. One of my favourite posts ever! Cheers! Kaarina

brendaverma
brendaverma

Love this analogy! And I love the advice of starting slow and mapping out a plan. I am new within Social Media and have been following a number of blogs for over a month to really understand how to engaged your target audience. I had visualized social media as a party; you just can't walk in, not engaged (no eye contact, etc), start talking and expect people to listen. You have to listen and participate in the conversations. But I think I like your analogy better.

BestRoofer
BestRoofer

OK, I thought that I would comment before you kicked my A$$. As a business owner it's not easy working out every day. Sometimes I feel like I can either do social media or exercise. I'm starting to get a spare tire.

By the way, I see you everywhere, weren't you just over doing a blog post for @marijean ? Keep up the great work Ken!

Shelley Pringle
Shelley Pringle

Great post, Ken! I'm intrigued by the idea of sticking with something for 3 weeks before it becomes habit. I recently decided that one of the things I wanted to work on over the next year is my writing. I made a goal of getting up at 6 am every weekday to write for an hour. Well, it's been just two short weeks and I have to tell you it is painful (not the writing part, the getting up at 6 part). So I am looking forward to the end of next week when it will just be part of the routine and no big whoop!

karirippetoe
karirippetoe

I love this analogy, Ken! Especially since I've recently started making the treadmill a morning habit.

I can't tell you how much it frustrates me to come across a business where someone took the time to start a Twitter account, even tweeted a few things. 5 followers, no avatar and a year later, that's all there is. I think many businesses are afraid of social media and/or are clueless about what to do. Kinda like exercising - sometimes you have to really motivate yourself to get started, or even have a trainer show you the best way to get results.

I just wrote a post about this yesterday, so I think this is on the minds of many folks like you and I (hope you'll pardon the plug) - http://www.tuvel.com/blog/2011/09/15/2012-the-year-of-living-dangerously-with-social-media/

Samantha Collier
Samantha Collier

Excellent comparison Ken! As you know I work in the legal social media realm and there are hundreds of law firm Twitter accounts with one or two tweets per day and they are usually just pushing out content - no interaction, engagement, Nada! It drives me up the wall. And I agree with you, it's almost better to NOT have an account than have a poorly managed one.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@Shelley Pringle Well, I'm not gonna guarantee the 3-week thing...it's just what I've heard. But...I think it will come easier for you, and become more enjoyable!

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@karirippetoe I hear ya. I started to run a few weeks back...and failed miserably. In the end, like working out, it ultimately comes down to education and fully understanding the NEED to do it right.

KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@Samantha Collier I see that in every industry. Drives me more nuts when I see it from Social Media "experts". And I see that ALL THE TIME! No blogging. Poorly maintained social accounts. Yeesh.

AmandaFunk
AmandaFunk

May I reference this post in presenting "The Use of Social Media in Non-profits" in a presentation I am giving to the Junior League of Lancaster tomorrow night? I will make sure credit to you is noted and will have a link you your blog, Facebook, and Twitter for everyone to see.

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