The Turtle Ultimately Wins The Race

by Gia Lyons on Aug 13, 2010

This website has been making the social Web rounds lately. If one were to put each randomly created sentence on slides, one could probably charge for consulting services.

Hint: refresh the web page to get a new piece of advice.

And then a few days ago, my friend @sarahkayhoffman of Nike Human Race social media fame, and more recently, #HireHoff success, posted this gem:

Don’t be a One-Hit Wonder


Many companies employ Social Media to promote an event, launch a new product, service and/or campaign or flat-out blast single promotions/hot items.

But what happens when the company employs it for just a few days, weeks or even 3-5 months prior and then drops it like a bad habit?

Congratulations! You’ve become a “One-Hit Wonder!”

Traditional marketers are still trying to understand “social”

Traditional marketing programs move from event to event, while sustaining the message in between (you more seasoned marketers are welcome to correct and clarify here, as I’m still a n00b in the Marketing arena). Traditional marketers struggle with how to infuse these programs with “social,” and invariably do EXACTLY what Sarah describes in her article.

Hell, I’ve even perpetrated this myself, my very first week after joining Jive’s Marketing team. Good thing it was an inexpensive lesson. ;)

Constant and steady wins the race

We all know that a foundational, ongoing social behavior is what’s needed to “sustain the message” these days, whether it’s in support of marketing programs, customer relations (ohhh, I almost said ‘management’ there!), or even personal reputation. But, how do you fit that into the way marketers approach marketing?

I’ll ask that again.

How do you fit ongoing social behavior into the way marketers approach marketing?

What I propose isn’t earth-shattering, nor is it complicated. What it is, however, is difficult, because it’s simply not part of a marketer’s job right now. And it’s probably the single thing traditional marketers can do to infuse “social” into their programs, the right way.

Here it is. Ready?

Nurture individual, trusted relationships with your key influencers.

Right now, there are probably one or two people in your organization who really KNOW your key connectors, mavens, advocates. It’s likely the person responsible for getting quotes from your customers for marketing materials, or whoever is in charge of your online community’s advocate program, or, if you’re lucky, the person who’s full-time job it is to engage with people through the social Web.

When you have trusted relationships with key influencers, you can ask them to participate in planning your marketing programs. They can advise you on what messages they’d be willing to propagate within their networks, what activities might help sustain the buzz between events, you name it. Because you’ve invested your time in building a relationship with them, they’re more likely to help you out.

Does it make sense to give this job to one person? Yes.

Right now, it makes sense to hire someone to spend all day in the social Web, building relationships, getting answers for people’s questions, directing them to relevant content and people.

Here’s what David Armano says about this:

A community manager actively monitors, participates in and engages others within online communities. These communities can be on Twitter, Facebook, message boards, intranets, wherever groups of people come together to converse and interact with each other. A traditional marketing manager is likely to have little experience with this function.

~ Fire Your Marketing Manager and Hire A Community Manager (Harvard Business Review)

The payoff is that these people end up creating massive amounts of social capital for your organization to spend as needed.

But, how do you measure social capital?

The problem is that it’s hard to measure the value of, and results from, social capital earned through ongoing social Web engagement (and for that matter, through in-person meetups, tweetups, conferences, parties, etc). Is it about generating leads? Nope. And unfortunately, that’s probably the primary measurement stick Marketing still uses.

And that’s why sites such as still ring eerily true.

So, WTF is my social media strategy?

Be like the Turtle. Your social media strategy should be to consistently and steadily generate – and SPEND – massive amounts of social capital with key influencers, customers, and anyone who’s considering buying into what you have to sell.

Post Author

Gia Lyons has been developing, providing consulting services for, or selling socio-collaborative solutions since 1996. She spent four years as a collaborative application instructor and developer, another eight years as a socio-collaborative technical specialist and evangelist, serving large organizations in...

  • This is a great reminder of exactly what we are supposed to be doing. I appreciate it because as the Co-Founder and the person responsible for our social representation online, it's difficult to stay motivated when you don't see the results “instantly”.

    It's good to have that realistic reminder that it doesn't happen with just a few press releases every other month sent out!

  • This is a great post as it's something I've been preaching myself for a long time.
    Social media is not about just one off campaigns or using Twitter once to say something and then never again. Social media is about creating and maintaining relationships with people. There is sometimes (but very rarely) a case where a company will see any sort of immediate ROI on their social media, but the goal is to still achieve some in the end. This is done by ongoing processes of connecting with the people you want/need to connect with and establishing these long lasting relationships with them.


    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

  • Thanks for the comments! I honestly think this is why it's so hard to justify “hanging out” on the Web all day long, because, as SimpleLeap Software says, you don't see the results instantly, nor can you point to some social Web moment and say, “that's a lead.”

    This makes it difficult to justify a fully loaded FTE – someone who knows your company, your products, your people, your customers, your prospects – to just “hang out” all day.

    Higher-end hotels have one to several concierges. How is that job justified, I wonder?