Key tenets of social media include: realizing when your social media isn’t working; being nimble and flexible with your strategy in order to adapt to trends, successes and failures; being persistent in your pursuit of specific ROI goals without giving up at the first sign of struggle. Something isn’t working? Fix it. A particular aspect of your strategy works well, and another one doesn’t? Adapt. Part of the joy of social media is the ability to react to clear data on your audience’s feedback, and the most successful social media stories are the ones that do that really, really well.
However, the fact of the matter is that it can be easy to become complacent in your strategy—even unintentionally. I’m a walking example of this. When I first began working in social media, a major rookie error was being too subjective in my analysis of my work. Inherent subjectivity, or perceiving a person, situation, or event through the construct of our existing mental models, is an easy trap to fall into. As professor of management practice, Elizabeth Thornton explains in the Huffington Post, this “often results in cognitive errors, which means we judge and respond incorrectly.” She says “we can challenge our underlying assumptions and the way we form our world in order to reduce our subjectivity and respond more objectively to what actually is. When we can see things as they are, without projecting our mental models and fears, we are being objective.”
Through the lens of social media, remaining objective about your marketing efforts is important. Are you using your budget as effectively as possible, or are you throwing money out the window for a strategy that isn’t working? Are the people working on your social media (you, or another team) doing the best job they possibly could be? Are you “too close” to your marketing efforts to be able to make objective calls? While we’d all like to think that this is never the case and that business professionals can always remain objective about their work, it is simply is not true.
I’m passionate about my work and have at times realized that, although I think I’m doing a good job, a set of fresh eyes is necessary to rejuvenate the social media and try something new and different. I have fallen into ruts where I post content that isn’t exactly on strategy, or that has been proven to be ineffective but I want to try one more time to see if it works. And with certain clients at the beginning of my career, I loved my work on the page so much that I had a hard time hearing criticism, even if it was constructive.
Some of these realizations became good tests for me as I continued on in my social media career: Can I take outside criticism and edits to my work without being offended? If not, then I’m not looking at the marketing strategy objectively enough. Do I overreact to situations in which people suggest new content ideas or editing adjustments? Do I take things too personally? Am I making excuses for why a social media plan isn’t hitting pre-established goals? If so, I need to take a step back.
It rarely happens anymore when I find that I’m being entirely subjective with a social media or blog project, but it happens to the best of us. Put yourself and your marketing strategy for your business through the same ringer, even if it’s a little painful. I promise, it will be worth it in the long run.