Oh, this era of instant gratification. It affects us in every aspect of our lives, whether it’s wanting to find the shortest line at the grocery store, how long it takes us to get our food at a restaurant, or how long it takes us to lose those last few pesky pounds. Even in our professional lives, instant gratification has become king. We want success immediately, whether that means attaining the job position we want, a certain fundraising goal, or a certain brand awareness goal.
When social media became a primary means of communication for both personal and professional uses, it seems like many people assumed that the pathway to instant gratification had been paved. In the nonprofit world, you could now get to know your donors. You could make personal appeals at the speed of light. You could create compelling videos that would get shared far beyond what you were able to do in the past. If you were looking for instant gratification on behalf of your cause, social media made it seem like you were on your way.
The problem is that once everyone got the idea that social media was a silver bullet to success, the fact it takes time to build a presence online and then make that presence actually pay off got lost somehow. The expectation somehow grew that every YouTube video would go viral, every Facebook Page would be inundated with “fans,” and every Twitter account would get retweeted by a power user like Conan O’Brien or Ashton Kutcher. Even now, several years after social media began to revolutionize the world, people begin to “do social media” with the apparent expectation that as soon as they jump in, success will be sure to follow. When things don’t quite go that way, many organizations jump ship. They decide they want to try other things because “this social media thing isn’t working.” There are digital graveyards filled with abandoned blog sites, Facebook Pages, Twitter accounts, and more.
The Biggest Mistake: Giving Up
What I have seen most often in the online world is that people give up far too soon. At our agency we always tell our clients that if they want to invest in any kind of online presence, it can take six months to a year to see it start to take off the way they want it to. That means 6-12 months of consistent work, day in and day out. Of course it can be extremely frustrating. Whether you are pushing content on Twitter or Facebook or writing longer forms on a blog, it can be demoralizing to invest a lot of time into something that just doesn’t seem to be doing the trick, especially when time is hard to come by. There is never a promise that all of your wishes will come true, either. You have to keep pushing forward even though you might not get any positive reassurance that what you are doing will someday pay dividends. Most organizations and companies give up right around that point, when there is so much pressure to push the needle forward, and they feel that what they are doing is a waste of time. That is just when you need to stick with it for awhile longer. See if you can try different approaches, see if you can try different kinds of content, but don’t give up.
Building an online social community takes a lot of patience, a lot of tender loving care, and most of all, a lot of time. Planning your content strategy on the front end can help alleviate a lot of the pressure that comes later in the process. Setting certain goals for which you can strive also can help. Whatever you do, however, make sure you don’t give up on your efforts too soon. Who knows how many great opportunities have been missed because social media accounts were ditched just weeks or months before they were about to take off!