I have no reason to believe this beyond a hunch, but here goes.
We love social media for the same reason we love babies. When it’s an idea, or we just “play” around the edges, all we see is the joy. Post a Facebook comment and 30 people like it—easy, right? Babysit for a couple hours and what’s not to love? Kid gurgles, laughs, and is endlessly fascinated with you.
But when you’re really into social media, or are suddenly responsible for a child 24/7, the honeymoon period ends quickly. No need to elaborate on being a parent if you’re already one. You know what I’m talking about. If you aren’t, all I need to say is colic and lack of sleep—you’ll find out.
What gets us through those early days and sleepless nights? Those trying teenage years? Love, certainly. But also an understanding that you are nurturing and are responsible for a life.
Now, social media certainly isn’t a human life. But as with children, there is a brief honeymoon period in which we’re enthralled with the idea. But after taking the mantle, we quickly realize that this is a lot more difficult and aggravating than we imagined. Many people simply drop it. Some 40 percent of Twitter accounts, for example, have never sent a tweet.
Being the Adult
The online world is awash in grandiose promises about how easy and powerful social media is. And they’re right in one sense. It is easy (to start). And it is powerful (potentially). But ease and power do not necessarily follow one another.
Those who eventually realize results with social media are those who see past to honeymoon period to what can be—with a realistic eye.
Parents do the same. Very few don’t believe their child can be a leader at whatever they become. But they also know they haven’t failed (nor have their children) if instead of becoming President of the United States they enjoy a fruitful career in local politics, or if they don’t make the football Hall of Fame but do enjoy a long career as a high school coach.
With social media, you may never produce a campaign that “goes viral,” but you’ve hardly failed if your efforts yield improved communications and steady growth in contributions.
None of this is easy.
Building the Community
And because it’s hard, parents build huge networks around themselves and their children—family, friends, neighbors, schools, teachers, church, volunteer groups, and on and on—to help with nurturing the newborn.
Likewise in social media. Successfully handling it is not any one person’s job. It takes the entire team, and then some.
I’ve seen no one explain this better than Chris Dessi, in his article “The Anatomy of a Viral Facebook Post.” One line in the piece sums it up well: “It took us over a year of working closely with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to make our process seamless.”
A year—to produce one viral post that 17 million people saw. Intrigued? Read on and learn just how massive the effort was for that one moment.
1, 2, 3, Good Luck
We know all this, of course, but still we want to believe that somehow, social should be easy. A quick look at my Twitter page (less than 15 seconds) yielded the following articles:
- 5 ways to score more Likes.
- SEO, Social and email: 10 Best Practices
- 5 Influencers You Should Follow Today
You get the idea. Do these 3 things (easy), and boom, success.
Sounds like those parenting magazines my wife and I received in the wake of our oldest child’s birth. “Three Steps to Ending Tantrums,” “Five Ways to Protect Your ‘Date Nights’, “Four Reasons Children Shouldn’t Change Your Love Life.”
My wife and I used to read, laugh at, and wonder aloud, who’s writing this stuff? Surely someone who’s never been a parent.
Hopefully, you’re laughing, too, at all the promises of cheap, quick success in social media.
It’s the surest path to getting serious about, and beginning to reap the benefits of, social media.