Social Media Success Simplified posted an article today titled 5 Tips for Quick Social Media Success.   The tips in the article are great valid suggestions for anyone getting started in Social Media however the title had me shaking my head.  I believe the point of the article was not to indicate that social media success is easy, rather that small victories can be achieved if you follow her practical steps.  Again, great points but I am sensitive to the idea that social media success can be instantaneous. 

Social media success does not happen overnight.  There.  I said it. We have a tendency to look for a magic pill that is going to fix all of the problems or help us quickly reach a goal, but life, marketing and business typically don’t work that way.

It all comes down to how you define success.  If you haven’t defined success then the small victories generate a sense of euphoria that may not represent true success.  I know there are times when I have felt successful, but that feeling and actual achievements weren’t actually in line. True success takes time because it is a heavily involved process.

Over and over again I see organizations of all sizes jump into activities and action expecting this social media windfall of customers and sales without understanding what they are doing or what they expect to achieve.  What I am going to describe here is very simplified.  I am not going to give the process justice but I will do my best to make my point.

This process starts with benchmarking.  Where are you at currently?  It is hard to know if you succeeded if you don’t know where you started from. 

Goal setting needs to take place.  We are at at point A.  We want to reach point b, c & d in X amount of time frame.  Now we know where we want to go.  If you don’t have a goal, how are you going to find a path to get there?  It is quite possible you will spend your time and resources driving around in circles.

We have the goal, how are we going to get there?  What needs to be done to get to point b, c & d?  We can see what others are doing and follow best practices but guess what?  Marketing with social media tools is still very new.  There are a lot of roads that are very bumpy or are yet to be traveled so sometimes we don’t know exactly what needs to be done to reach point C.  We have what’s called trial and error with our action steps. 

We have projects and activities we need to complete and then an evaluation must occur, measurement of the goal, to determine if the goal was met.  If so, success has been achieved.  More often than not, more steps are needed, or different tactics need to be taken to reach the initial goal. This happens repeatedly: action step —> analysis, action step —> analysis and either the goal is met, or the goal has to to be changed based on the outcome achieved from the action steps.

If we didn’t benchmark initially, we don’t know how far we have come.  If we didn’t set a goal, it is hard to know if we are successful because true success was never defined.

Even being highly simplified, I find it hard to imagine this process flow being accomplished overnight. Just because we can post real time doesn’t mean success happens in that instantaneous moment of time.