Social Media Marketing And Its Similarities To Training For A Marathon

A friend of mine is going to run the Berlin Marathon at the end of September this year. It all started over two and a half years ago when she asked me if I would run the Nike women’s run (called “We own the night” in 2013) with her. Since then she runs regularly, and it also motivated me to start running regularly again. We rarely train together, but we did quite a few of long distance runs together. And finally, this year she registered for the Berlin marathon joining another 40.000 runners. I have no doubt that she will finish successfully.

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The whole journey has been a great motivation and inspiration for me, too. And thinking about it I find that there are many similarities between training for a marathon and Social Media marketing.

You need to prepare for the real successSocial Media Marketing And Its Similarities To Training For A Marathon

Unlike a sprint, not many people will be able to just start running and actually finish 42,195km. It takes a minimum of fitness and persistence to even attempt finishing a marathon (at least in a reasonable time and without hurting your body). In Social Media marketing, most of the success comes after some time of learning, and building an audience and then when you find a successful strategy and keep going success will find you. As in your training for the marathon, there may be times when success in social media marketing is not coming as expected and you get frustrated and want to give up. There may be times when you run slower than last week or you planned to. Still, you will be rewarded if you do not give up.

The first strategy you pursue may not be the best for you

One strategy you try may not get you where you want to go with your social media marketing. You may not see more traffic, audience or sales from it – but giving up is not an option. Some (even minor) changes in your strategy and everything eventually may fall into place and results will start showing. With running, one training method may not be the right one for you or simply not be the right one to make the next step. Your times will cease to improve – small tweaks or a different approach, and you will break your next record.

Sometimes nothing seems worth the effort

There will be drawbacks like a hurting knee or some blisters. Sometimes the weather simply sucks, and you can think of a hundred things you rather want to do than to go outside and run a couple of km. But keeping going and not giving up, you may have the fastest or longest run just ahead of you – maybe next week or next month.

In Social Media marketing there may be days when your creativity fails you, you have no idea what to post or simply do not want to talk to other people – but you keep going and then you realize you have a bunch of new followers, an influencer tweeted your post or your latest blogpost is getting shared like hell.

There will be times when nothing works out as you planned. People will not share your content, not buy your products or not register for your webinar. And then when you change the wording in your messaging, the color of your buttons or the landing page – suddenly your marketing starts getting results.

The first step is always the hardest

The hardest is always to start out. I can well remember the times when I was new to social media marketing and first tried to figure out the mechanisms of Twitter. Every new follower, each retweet and every click on my tweeted content was cause for happiness. At that time, I was not even thinking about traffic from Twitter or sales through social media.

I can also well remember times when running 5km was a hassle, and there were days when running with friends in the mountains resulted in me panting and coughing, trying to keep up and not being able actually to run all the way up the hill. – A few weeks later you can probably imagine my joy the first time I actually made it all the way up the mountain. And I have been running most of my adult life. Many people who are starting out, have to start with running just a few minutes and walking in between.

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Goals are important

As in social media marketing and with running, you need to set goals. Not only the big ones like running a marathon in 2 years. You also need smaller goals you can already see ahead and which are within your grasp: Like finishing the next 10km run a few minutes faster than the last one or running x% more km in the next month than the last. In marketing, you should not merely set huge goals like increasing your ROI by 20% in 5 years. Additionally, you should set some goals like publishing 3 blog posts each week, getting 10% new followers in the next month or raising your web traffic by x clicks in 3 months. A long distance goal is a must since you want to know where you are going. But to keep up motivation, you need to see some progress and proof that you are heading in the right direction – especially since we are talking about long term projects.

You need friends and buddies

Talking to yourself in social media marketing for ages is going to be very demotivating. Talking to other people and really connect will make your job much more fun and help you reach your goals. Training for a marathon means dedication and a lot of time invested. In both cases, talking to like-minded people and exchanging experiences, tips and ideas will give you inspiration, motivation and happiness. As so often in life, going alone is only half the fun. In Social Media Marketing friends and acquaintances will help you spread your important messages. Training for a marathon, friends will share your fears, your pain and your joy.

Harvesting your fruits

Once you are fit enough to not only run a marathon but also do it in a good time and without hurting yourself, you will be fit! And you will have achieved an overall fitness you can build upon for a long time in the future. In marketing if you build an audience and reach long-term success you will have an audience at your disposal for all your marketing efforts in the next weeks, months or even years. An audience that helps you spread the word share your content and give you feedback. And in both cases, nothing can take away your experience and the knowledge that you can reach almost any goals if you just keep going!

No, I am not planning on running a marathon – maybe a half marathon next spring. But I am indeed building something with social media marketing here at The Social Ms. And there are many things I learned from running for my social media marketing and the other way round. Keep running!

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This article was proofread and edited by myself with the help of Grammarly. If you are blogging in English and cannot afford a professional editor, Try Grammarly Now! It rocks.


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  • devenbhagwandin

    Thank you for this content, Susanna. One of my clients is has recently asked me (after hiring me 3 weeks ago) why they have not seen a significant ROI. Of course, it’s hard to answer that. I was even starting to doubt myself. This reinvigorates me!