“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.”

– Seneca, Roman philosopher

Several hundred years after Seneca, writer Malcolm Gladwell said that a person needs to practice 10,000 hours to master a skill. Psychologist Andres Ericsson, a Florida State University researcher and author of the book, “Peak,” said that it’s not just practice but “deliberate practice” that makes for success. And, Cal Newport, author of “So Good They Can’t Ignore You,” said that how you practice makes the difference. In any event, luck has little to do with it.

To Succeed In Social Media You Must Practice

One thing is certain – to succeed you must practice. That goes for success in social media and inbound marketing. In these disciplines, practice means such things as creating and using the keywords and phrases that people will use to find you. It means creating and using the content that will engage people and make them want to find you. It means blogging, tweeting, posting, liking, sharing and being engaged, using all the tools of social media as you find the ones that work best for you.

This takes practice. Successful football teams know about the necessity of practice. They know that every play is designed to score a touchdown, but that failures occur. Someone fails to carry out his block or run his route. So, the teams look at the game films over and over, and they run through their drills over and over, trying to perfect themselves. Love them or hate them, the New England Patriots know this. Their success has been attributed to their practice sessions and their ability to adapt.

Having a Social Media Playbook Is Crucial

All great teams own and use a playbook. Professional football playbooks are inches thick. You, too, need a playbook, a document that shows you how to excel at inbound marketing, how to use social media to find new leads. You need a document that helps you prospect, engage, and convert. Your playbook will list the plays you will make to increase your name recognition. It will list the content that will attract people to your site and engage them. It will show you how to close.

Many companies don’t yet know the value of social media and inbound marketing. As such, they have no coach or playbook to guide them. Companies, in any stage of their inbound marketing journey, need to ask themselves questions such as these: Can you write the top three keyword phrases that people use to find you on a search? Then they need to go to Twitter, for example, and type in those keywords and hashtags using any combinations to see what happens. Then they need to practice with content. This means they start sharing the pieces of content they identified earlier, perhaps by retweeting some of the content they shared on Twitter, especially if it’s relevant to their industry. They can click “Favorite” for relevant tweets or tweets that they found interesting. Or, they might respond to questions they may have tweeted in their goal to establish thought leadership.

These are the kinds of drills companies must include in their social media playbooks. Of course, the greatest teams also have the greatest coaches. Vince Lombardi, Chuck Noll, Tom Landry – these names conjure up for football fans the steely-eyed and focused leaders who expect and demand the best from their players. Companies new to social media or shy about it, must find the right coach to help them develop their playbooks. These coaches, social media consultants, need not be prohibitively expensive. In fact, the expense in the front end will save companies loads of money over the long haul.

The social media players who have become household names have practiced, adapted, practiced some more, adapted again, and continue the process on a never-ending journey to get it right. Luck is not involved. These players want every pass to go for a touchdown. They want to post content that brings people to their site so that they can engage and convert with interesting and often educational messages. They know their audiences. They know what interests them. They know how to create compelling messages. They’ve created a great playbook and follow it. They win the inbound marketing game. You can, too. It’s simple: get a great coach and practice, practice, practice.

Picture of Ed Barr

Ed Barr

Edward Barr, author of Your Lizard Brain is Calling You, is one of the nation’s foremost authorities on neuromarketing. His experience as a professor and researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, and as a global marketing executive in for-profit and non-profit organizations, gives him a unique perspective on the emerging science of neuromarketing, along with a practical understanding of how to put this knowledge into action.

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