This morning I was working on a marketing packet for our customers. It’s a neat-o little group of documents that allow them to launch their sites effortlessly. It points them in the right direction, a compass of marketing do’s and dont’s. I framed it as a checklist and wrote down every marketing idea I had. The more I wrote, the more I thought of. It wasn’t long before I realized the swell of attention in a site launch is easy, it’s maintaining it that’s hard.
Like all long-term relationships, it takes commitment. Commitment on the part of the executive team, the IT team, even the marketing team. In small organizations, those may all be the same person but in larger groups it means a lot of different folks speaking the same language. That’s not always easy as the executives may be framing their concerns and cares around the bottom line, while the marketers may have their heads in the clouds of what could be and the IT gurus are so very literal. If I could picture them gathered around a table it might look like this (I won’t say who is who but if I have to choose one, I want to be the little blue frog creature). But it suffices to say that committing to a social media strategy involves juggling multiple personalities and change management.
Unlike ads of old, you don’t just do it and sit back and wait for the increase in revenue or readership. Social media is named so because of the relationship dynamic. Online communities and membership management software gives you a place and the means to forge a connection with your members but it does not do it for you. You have to work at it. That means communication and keeping it exciting. It means providing value and coming up with new information to share even when you just want to sit in your chair and stare at a screen. It means providing them with something they can’t get elsewhere and that takes work. Not just the first weeks leading up to launch and not just through your launch celebration. It takes commitment to the process. It’s not for the faint of heart.
But like parenthood, you invest a huge amount of your time and energy in creating the perfect offspring knowing you’ve produced something better than yourself, something you can be proud of. You’ll get satisfaction in varied ways like emails from your members telling you they love your site, pats on the back when others see what you’re doing, maybe you’ll even get an award but mostly you’ll get satisfaction from seeing that community grow and thrive, having only vague recollections of the sleep you lost in the process.