Social media, when used really well by businesses, has the most significant impact for your work when people share what they find. It’s the infamous “viral” success we all want but very few every receive. We know that word of mouth is the most powerful form of marketing because people trust it most. We also know that word of mouth marketing is the most elusive of all marketing forms because it’s like trying to catch a tornado. You never quite know where it’s going to land nor what direction it will take once it touches down.
When the power of social media really became apparent a few years ago it seemed our hopes for a viral harvest had finally come in. What we’ve seen, however, is that it’s still as hard as it ever was…but should it be?
Focus On The Preparation Not The Outcome
I think there is truth in the idea that social media gets us closer to the word of mouth promised land but it certainly doesn’t make it automatic either. We can’t make word of mouth marketing happen. We can’t ensure viral success. Maybe that’s why I cringe a bit when I hear someone say they’re going to have a viral campaign.
What we can do, however, is all the right things that give us the best possible opportunity for success. It’s like having a garden. You can’t make the tomatoes and cucumbers grow but you can select a good location for the appropriate amount of sun, prepare the soil well, and make sure it gets enough water.
When most people talk about going viral they have already put too much time focusing on the desired result and almost never enough time tending to the social media garden. We can’t control the outcome but we very much control all the things that go into creating an environment where success is more likely to happen. A good gardener knows that she increases her chances of a great season if she does everything right even before the seeds go in the ground.
Preparation and patience are key to doing social media well. We’re all organic gardeners here. There is no supermarket to purchase the results you want. Gardening is a process that takes time and regular attention and your social media efforts will be no different, but when you do these things well, you greatly increase the likelihood that you’re going to see success even beyond what you hope.