Where’s the Switch?

Social media marketing requires brands to be quick, act in real-time and think on their feet, but moving from planning to execution with very tangible results isn’t quite so quick. It’s a deliberate process of building the foundation of a community that can then be leveraged for greater returns.

Marketers can’t think of their social presence as something with an on/off switch that instantly mobilizes consumers. You can’t have a Facebook Page launch at the same time as another initiative and expect it to offer much support. Bloggers can’t be contacted the same week as a product launch with the expectation that their content will be posted in conjunction with the launch.

Social media marketing takes time, and like any marketing initiative, you have to invest the time upfront for it to pay off on the other side.

Invest in the Foundation

Social media marketing builds to a crescendo, and the key word is build. In the beginning, marketers can’t expect to have the same results as a brand that’s invested the time to build a presence.

Social media gives marketers the ability to curate a community of passionate advocates who can then be mobilized on behalf of the brand by encouraging them to tell their friends and generate word of mouth. It takes time and support to get that community built unless you’re lucky enough to inherit a community that’s already been created for you.

Consumers haven’t been waiting with bated breath for your brand to have a social presence. If you build it, they won’t come. Social media marketing is a 401k investment. A brand needs to invest by inviting people to the community before it can harness it.

It’s really no different than other marketing channels. They all require an investment in something that can be leveraged. A TV spot needs to be created before it can run. A print ad needs to be concepted and finalized before it shows up anywhere. All of these require time and resources to build. Once they’re built, they can be mobilized.

It's Worth It

Having an established community changes the game for a brand in the social space. The brand can use a community to get in front of their extended social connections and have access to a ready and willing group of people who are receptive to the brand’s message.

Taking the time to build opens doors for what objectives a brand can achieve. You don’t hear the stories, but blood, sweat, tears and time went into building the Starbucks, Zappos and Red Bulls of social media marketing. In the beginning, it was slow. Returns were small just like an investment.

Social media is not the lottery. It’s a long-term investment. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. There isn’t an on/off switch, but if you plan ahead and understand what you’re building toward, you’ll be able to look back very happy you built the foundation.