Why Good Social Media is a lot Like Working Out

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Confession time: I’m not an athlete. I’m uncoordinated, lanky, and when I was younger, never got much into sports. (Watch me try to shoot a basketball or throw a football for five minutes if you want to understand.)

Continuing on into college, I wasn’t really much into exercise, despite the fact that I worked at a gym. Enter today, and things have changed just a bit. With a job that involves a lot of sitting behind a computer screen, I’ve gained a bit more of a sense of urgency for getting out there and running more than I ever used to.

Although I still won’t claim to be an exercise expert, starting to steadily work out has made me realize that good social media is a lot like working out. Whether you’re a ten-employee candle-making shop or the world’s largest coffee chain, the same basic ideas apply:

  • It’s better to post twice five times a week than it is to post ten times once a week: With exercise, ten minutes of exercise every day is better for you than an hour of exercise once a week, and a similar approach applies with social media. When you publish all of your posts on one day, sure, you’re meeting quotas, but you’re also shrinking your opportunity to get in front of your customers immensely.
  • We always recommend six to ten tweets a day, but if you were extremely limited in your resources, two a day several days a week is still better than nothing. Spreading out your posts gives broader data points and a greater chance of you being discovered.
  • Keeping up a routine is much harder than the initial startup: Anyone can run five miles in a week or hit the gym three times for a couple of weeks, but it’s those who are dedicated and keep that routine up who can truly call themselves fit. Much in the same way, anyone can start a Twitter account and shoot out a few tweets for a couple of weeks, or publish a blog or two and call themselves an expert.
  • It’s the long-term rigor that’s most difficult after those first bright ideas wear off and you realize that you still need to keep publishing. Getting over the hump is difficult, but it’s very doable with diligence and a good attitude.
  • Mixing up your routine keeps things balanced: Never skip leg day. Doing the same workout every day may be fun for a while, but there’s a reason that marathoners cross-train and weight lifters regularly switch up the muscles they’re working out.
  • On social media, you shouldn’t skip metaphorical leg day either. Are you curating a ton of good content? That’s great–but only if you’re backing it up with original posts and conversation. Are you posting lots of interesting links? That’s good too–but try mixing it up with some photos and videos.
  • Every business’ strategy will be different–and that’s a good thing: Some people love running. Others despise it and would much rather spend an hour riding a bike. Some people love cardio. Others hate it and would rather spend the afternoon pumping iron. Except for maybe the last one (cardio really is good for you), there’s nothing wrong with having an exercise routine that’s tailored to what you most enjoy and what your personal fitness goals are.
  • With your business, what are you looking to accomplish? What type of industry are you in? And who are you trying to get in front of? Starbucks’ strategy is different than Target’s strategy which is different from SMC’s strategy which is different from Hubspot’s strategy. Imitation may be the highest form of flattery, but tailoring social media to your needs is just as okay.

Good social media really is a lot like working out. No matter if you’re running or cycling or swimming or some strange workout in between, consistency, rigor, and a little bit of spontaneity are all essential to getting (and staying) in shape. The same is true on social media, where inconsistency kills and inactivity really stings.

Even if you’re not big into working out, these principles are good things to keep in mind for anyone looking to start getting active on social media. Don’t be like the millions of people who wake up on January 1, work out for a week, and then let that New Year’s Resolution slide. And don’t be like the many thousands of businesses that have tried out social media for a week only to get lazy and stop posting altogether.

Working out isn’t particularly hard–and neither is social media. But consistency is. Stay consistent and post regularly, and you’ll be well ahead of 90 percent of the businesses out there on social media today.


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About the author: John Darwin

John is a recent college graduate from Creighton University. He earned his B.A. in English, specializing in British Literature, and is currently working as an editor at Social Media Contractors.

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