Why Using Social Media is Like Going to the Gym.

March 4, 2011

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend who has been struggling with social media buy-in. She is getting a lot of resistance in her company and upper management doesn’t see the value. As I thought about techniques that she could use to convince her company that social media is not the devil, it occurred to me that social media is a lot like exercise.

For most of my life I hated to exercise. I didn’t like it in any form. It was hard. I would try it, but never longer enough to get comfortable with it and never long enough to see long term benefits.  I was fat and unhealthy. I had back problems, knee problems, gall bladder surgery and just felt crummy.

Last June I was at a conference and noticed, for the first time, how many people made time to go to the gym during the event. These people were very fit and looked great. Now, for as long as I can remember, people were telling me that I should workout. “It’s good for you,” “You will feel better,” I could go on and on. However, I never listened. I resisted. I never “had the time.” But at this event, I SAW that these people were going and they looked and felt great. At this point something in me clicked. I went home and joined a gym and have been going five – six days a week for the last nine months. I feel great now and I think to myself, “Gee, why didn’t someone tell me sooner that I would feel so good?” Silly me, they did. I just wasn’t ready to listen. What changed my mind to try it was seeing other people’s action and success. What convinced me to stay with it was my own experience.

So how does this relate to social media? First of all, many people still don’t understand it. They don’t understand the mechanics, as well as, the benefits. They don’t have time. They resist. Their behavior is very similar to how mine was about exercise. So, here’s what I suggested that my friend do to get a little more buy-in.

  • Educate them. Take some of the mystery out of social media.
  • Reinforce your message.  Mention various benefits because you never know when something will click for someone.
  • Show them success stories. I had to see a lot of these before I believed that exercise was good. Do the same with social media wins.
  • Teach them about different tools. I hate the treadmill, but love the elliptical.  They might gravitate towards one tool over another because of personal preference.
  • Pair up people who can get into social media together.  Going to the gym is much more fun with a buddy.
  • Educate them. I know I mentioned this already, but it’s worth repeating.
  • Repeat your message.
  • Take baby steps and have realistic expectations about how they participate. When I first started working out, ten minutes was cause for celebration. Now I can attend two hour long classes. Like anything, start small, think big.

I know that there are countless other ways to get buy-in on using social media. What has worked for you? Share your story.