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Strategy: Is SMM more like a marathon than a sprint?

There are two ways of looking at SMM. As a great opportunity to get some visibility. Or as a tool to develop a community of fans. The first relies on publicity stunts, communication artifacts, and growth hacking. The second, on relationship building with people who have no clue that you exist. Which approach is the right one? Wouldn’t these two have more in common than they seem?

No matter how you see it: the implications of SMM are the same

Planning social media ops, whether it answers short-term or long-term goals, requires some preparation. Even communications in the age of social media have not changed this. The new idea with social media is that we have to give these communications a spontaneous touch. This required brands to cope with the instantaneity of social media. Because communicating instantaneously never means improvising.

Social media, thanks to greater proximity with users, also allows you to experiment with new approaches. For example: developing new service features based on the community’s feedback. Or addressing influencers rather than journalists to promote what you do. Okay, that’s not quite new anymore. But you get the idea.

While the myth that SMM comes cheap has been around for some time, no wise decision-maker today thinks that anymore. There are rarely miracles, often a lot of work and expertise behind success stories. It’s just not what is put forward most of the time. 

Another common urban legend is that short-term campaigns are less expensive than short-term campaigns. To put it straight, it is never the duration of marketing ops that alone determine a budget. Organizing a 3-month viral digital marketing campaign can require much more consequential investments than a 1-year inbound marketing strategy. It all depends on your objectives and the resources needed to achieve them.

How the same channels can lead to very different strategy depending on your goals

Each approach offers different possibilities, which should be assessed according to your goals. 

When you’re looking to get people to know about you, you will focus on what can bring you such visibility. Putting PR at the heart of your campaign, teaming up with influencers, running ads, organizing giveaways.

When you are looking to grow a legit fanbase, your strategy will focus on building your authority. Becoming a reference in your field, for everyone sharing it, on your social media channels.

In both cases, it is unlikely to convert a target who has not previously heard about you. To be successful, make it personal. Only invest in platforms where you know your brand has owned and earned content to share, where people expect it.

Consistency is key for those who want to get the most from social media

Social media can be great to gain visibility. Though, visibility acquired quickly at an early stage of your sales funnel produces ephemeral results. The real value of SMM lies ultimately in the potential to trigger valuable actions among the community you build.

This means developing a personalized relationship with your audience that lets them recognize your strengths compared to the competitors. It can take some time between the discovery of your brand and valuable action. But on social media, this has no equal in terms of conversions. This can explain the disappointment of some unknown brands relying too much on influencer marketing.

With the specificity of SMM, I can recommend for brands setting up social media teams to keep a low turn-over. If your marketing team changes several times in a 24 months period, you will likely lose some precious knowledge. Such a change can have a real impact on your results.

Social media becoming more complex over the years, I would also recommend surrounding yourself. Let people with the right skills and experience help supervise your project, everywhere they can bring the biggest value. Between the benefits of their expertise and the spontaneous transfer of skills that occurs, it’s a win-win collaboration.

So, is SMM a marathon rather than a sprint? It may depend on your goals. But for brands that see it in the long run, social media will be beneficial in ways that are otherwise difficult to achieve.

What do you think? Your turn to share your opinion and experience!

By Max Schleiffer

French entrepreneur. I have grown a marketing consultancy over the decade. Now, I explore new ways of working in the digital age.