5 Facts that Social Media is an Endurance Contest

Photo by USACE Europe District

“You say you want a [social media] revolution, wellll you know . . . we all wanna change the world.” ~John Lennon

OK, that’s not exactly how the song goes, but I think a lot of people have this underlying expectation that once you get your NPO a Twitter account and/or a Facebook page, the revolution will just need to be televised. I certainly thought, when I started my Twitter account, that I would be able to jump in right away and get at least 50 followers pretty quickly. I humbly acknowledged that getting my blog going would probably take a bit longer–like, a month or two. I thought that way after a year or two of watching a lot of webinars, and doing a lot of reading and research about the online world.

I would imagine many of you are entering or entered the online world with similar expectations of how things would progress. And, unless I’m more off my nut than was previously surmised, I’m willing to bet that like me, you found the journey to be slightly more torturous than what you had expected.

The fact is that social media marketing is not a 100-yard dash. It’s a marathon. A really, really long marathon. And it’s not a marathon where everybody starts at the same time. There are people who are already sitting at the proverbial finish line (at least from your perspective) drinking their Gatorade and kind of laughing at you a little. There are people who seem to be running a lot faster than you. And although you’re sure they must be there, you just can’t seem to see anyone behind you.

Well, fear not. Social Media is not about speed. It’s not about who is running beside you or ahead of you or behind you. It’s about running your race, even when things seem like they will never get easier. Here are five facts that help support this line of thinking.

1. Most people abandon their blogs.

Back in 2009, the New York Times reported that 95% of blogs end up abandoned by their bloggers. Fast forward three years later, and Gini Dietrich is writing about how companies are abandoning their blogs.

But that doesn’t mean blogging is dead. Here’s the truth. Starting a blog is hard. You won’t get many, if any comments. People won’t share your stuff. I got maybe 10 comments during my first 6 months of blogging. It’s an endurance test. You have to keep going even though you’re not getting a lot of feedback. If you’re still blogging, you’re winning.

2. People can’t know you if they don’t know you.

When you are first starting out, social media is really about getting to know people. You can’t expect people to magically gravitate towards your blog or your Twitter account. You have to put in a lot of time (a lot!) commenting on other peoples’ blogs, retweeting other peoples’ stuff, participating in Twitter chats, or finding other ways to get yourself on peoples’ radars. It’s a lot of work that, again, can take time before benefits start showing up. If you are out there trying to get to know people even though they still may not be visiting your blog or tweeting with you, you’re winning.

3. About 50% of the Twitter accounts have been abandoned.

A blog post by ReadWriteWeb in September 2011 reported that about half of all Twitter accounts have been abandoned. This was based on the fact that Twitter had announced surpassing 200 million total accounts while also surpassing 100 million active Twitter accounts (pretty easy math).

Twitter can be massively frustrating. It’s hard to get conversations started. It’s hard to jump into conversations when nobody knows who you are. It’s hard to find your voice. And it’s hard not to get discouraged when you see other people making it look so easy. If you’re still tweeting even though it seems like you just can’t get the hang of it, you’re winning.

4. There are still only 24 hours in a day.

Social media, especially when you are trying to build your online presence, is a major time commitment. Writing those blogs takes time. Commenting on those blogs takes time. It all takes time, time, time. When you combine that with the frustration you may feel for those first 6-12 months, and then add in that whole “I need to take care of my business” thing, it’s easy to put social media on the back burner. If you’re balancing your time so that you can maintain your online presence while doing everything else you do, you’re winning.

5. Most people are not “powerhouses.”

When you first start to do whatever it is you’re doing with social media, it’s easy to get distracted by those powerhouses. The people who have 500,000 Twitter followers, 17,000 fans of their Facebook page, and 30,000 blog subscribers. Your numbers, in comparison, may seem pretty paltry. They shouldn’t.

According to a post from October 2011, “93.6% of Twitter profiles have less than 100 followers and 92.4% follow less than 100 profiles.” That means if you have 20 followers right now, you’re 20% of the way to getting where most people get to. And you’re winning.

Everything in the online world is relative. Success comes and goes seemingly without our ability to control it. There are dips and highs. There are people who seem to be “doing it wrong” who seem also to have a lot more success. Hang in there. Endure the tough times. Run the marathon. And remember, as long as you’re moving, you’re winning.

23 thoughts on “5 Facts that Social Media is an Endurance Contest”

  1. What?! You only have 24 hours in a day? Huh. I totally have 36.u00a0nnI’m with you on blogging. It makes me angry that studies show blogging is down when it’s clear they were started and abandoned solely because they’re so much work. There is a big perception that, because the social media tools are free, this is an easy way to communicate and market your business.u00a0nnBut you’re right: It’s hard, it’s a marathon, and there will be some tough times. Kind of like mile 22 in a marathon.

    1. Ditto. It does take a lot of work, but it’s worth it. My favorite point is when Margie tells us to look away from the powerhouses, not be distracted by what they’re doing when we can thrive with what’s in front of us.nnAnd… You’re here! You’re here! I’m so excited!! Thanks for stopping by, Gini! :))

    2. Or mile 11 in a half. I haven’t tried the full yet :)nnI was wondering how you do everything you do. Now the secret is finally out – you have an extra half-day every day. Dang. What do you have to do to get one of those?

  2. Having started blogging in August of 2011, I can attest to the fact that it is, in fact a TON of work to get your name and blog out there. But here’s the truth – it works! Connect, connect, connect, as you say. I am not an endurance runner by any stretch of the imagination, but I am and will continue to be an endurance blogger! Thanks for the great pep talk.

  3. My first social media “platform” was my Dad’s shoulders and he/I would never abandon each other – everything in perspective 🙂 nnMost “filters” are created by ourselves – so we stop sharing – by giving each other a lift on to the shoulders of another perhaps we can see/share more freely and ……nn

  4. So true! u00a0I started my blog about six months ago. It’s a lot of work, and sometimes you feel like nobody is reading your content, but every once in a while they do, and I’m grateful.nnI have a Rhymes with Orange cartoon above my desk that says – The Great Irony – The Number of People on the Internet – 10,000,000,000,000 – The number of people reading your blog – 10

    1. Sounds about right, Ann. But things can get better if you keep at it. You have to be willing to try different things, which sometimes can be even more frustrating because you get all excited about the new idea. But it’s all about hanging in there :)u00a0

  5. Very true, we tell all our clients that social media and marketing is no silver bullet to their business but definitely worth slowly building up. Which reminds me, time to clean up a blog of two for our site …

  6. Great points! And the last line, u201cas long as youu2019re moving, youu2019re winningu201d, caught my attention! Itu2019s a simple yet very motivating line. If youu2019re going to be involved in social media, you have to be persistent and determined to pursue your goal, no matter what! Even though there are a lot of obstacles, donu2019t be bothered! Time management is the key. Go, fight, win attitude is another factor that will lead you to winning. Donu2019t be a loser, be a winner!

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