Getting the most from social media does not just happen. Indeed, many people can be frustrated by the social media experience because they have not thought through what they want from social media. Of course, there is a valid place for trying different things and experimenting with different aspects of social media. However, there needs to be an overarching strategy for what you want out of social media and where you want to go with it. A strategy of some form needs to be embraced by individuals and especially by organizations.
In developing this strategy, lessons can be learned from the game of golf, a global game of great popularity that is played by people of all ages and in many diverse locations. Various surveys suggest that some fifty to sixty million people across the world play golf regularly. It is a game of great challenge, but also one of enjoyment. It is also a game that is strongly dependent on individual performance, commitment, judgment, and adaptation to prevailing conditions.
Regarding social media, four lessons from golf are very relevant.
1. Have a game plan
Golfers know that a game plan is important. Each game is different depending on a range of factors including weather conditions and the state of the fairways. A good golfer will assess how to play the game in advance and whether more aggressive club selections are needed for the game because of prevailing conditions.
An individual seeking to embrace social media needs to have a broad game plan of what he or she is trying to achieve and how to go about it. This is not about the volume of thought but rather the clarity of thought. Be clear on where you want to head with social media, and, as stated earlier, it is important to create enough personal time and space to give it a go and get the most out of it. Is it more about using social media for business or professional activity or is its main focus going to be more on social aspects? Or is there a blend of the two?
2. Maintain a strong social media focus and commitment
Golfers often lose focus or grow overconfident about their final score. They may have had a good first half of the game, but the score can turn badly on just one or two strokes or one bad hole. Top players have all too often seen the winner’s trophy in sight, only to find it eluding them in the final few holes of the game.
Like these golfers, individuals should establish and maintain a strong commitment once they have embarked on their social media journey. Participating in social media must be done in a way to maximize the chance of success and enjoyment. A fleeting visit to social media sites from time to time will not provide a decent level of satisfaction or enjoyment and may cause disenchantment.
A friend once said to me that he had tried a social media tool for a couple of weeks and then lost interest. I suggest this person did not give anywhere near the commitment and focus that was needed to give it a go. It is a bit like fitness. A casual visit to the gym from time to time will not deliver the fitness benefits expected. It needs commitment to a regular and frequent programme.
3. Tactical choices really matter
For a golfer, the tactics on each hole need to be carefully considered. The choice of club for a particular shot is most often cited as a key decision to be made. Likewise, the approach to the green is a tactical choice. Should the player loft over a nasty bunker or perhaps play a safer shot shy of the bunker but a little farther from the pin?
For individual social media activity, the choice of the right social media tools is of equal tactical importance. For an individual wanting to have more of a professional interaction with work colleagues and work interests, the use of LinkedIn would be a better choice than social media tools that are geared to more social commentary and the exchange of photos. It is important that the right tools are chosen to ensure individuals get what they seek from social media
4. Don’t complain about the conditions—deal with them
The final point involves the conditions in which individuals and businesses operate. Again, consider golf, a sport that is played in all conditions—the wind, the rain, the heat, and so on. The conditions cannot be changed, so golfers have to learn to deal with these variables and change their game or their gear accordingly.
Individuals using social media need to deal with whatever social media serves up to them on a daily basis. This is especially true in the early days of their social media activity. How friends respond to their various posts (or perhaps don’t respond), how many friends or connections they have, and what kind of information they find are all factors and conditions that individuals will confront.
Think about your social media strategy…….
- What do you really want from social media?
- What is your game plan for making the most out of social media?
The above is drawn from material contained in Matt English’s book Grasping Social Media available online at https://www.createspace.com/4678871