6 reasons why leveraging social media is like long distance running

by Kirsten Hodgson

I was out for run last week and was thinking about how I'm going to use social media this year, when it hit me: there are many parallels between long-distance running and the journey towards effectively leveraging social media. 

Here are 6 similarities I've discovered. What would you add?

1. You need a clear goal or its really difficult to keep going – anyone who's trained for a long distance event, be it a marathon, half marathon or other distance knows that, even with the best will in the world, it's really hard to keep up the momentum once you've run the race. Those 3 hour runs become 2 hour runs which then become 1 hour runs unless you are highly disciplined or have another goal to aim for. It's the same with social media. It's easy to start off with a bang only to lose enthusiasm and/or momentum after a few months.

2. You build up slowly but surely - when running you start by building your base fitness and then build both your speed and endurance. When using social media you establish the foundations first (complete profiles, starting to connect with others) and then consistently engage, slowly building momentum as you go.

3. You can feel totally alone - when you're out running on a cold, damp, dark morning and you don't see another living soul you can feel like you're the only one out there. Even if you're running a race, if and when you hit the wall, you may retreat into yourself (I know I do) and it's like everyone around you doesn't exist. When you're new to social media you can feel like noone's listening. And it's sometimes true, they're not. But over time that will change if you focus on engaging with, and helping, others.

4. You meet others and support oneanother - one of the reasons why I love both running and social media is that sense of community. You meet so many great people who are supportive and who help oneanother. There's a sense of cammeraderie and shared experience.

5. You're in it for the long haul – unless you're superhuman or have amazing natural fitness you can't run a distance event on no training in the time you want to. You've got to be committed for a period of weeks and months if you want to get a PB (personal best) or finish the race. It's the same with social media – it's not a silver bullet. If you want to leverage it effectively you need to be in it for the long haul. Passive involvement doesn't cut the mustard nor does abandoning social media after 4 months because you haven't seen a return. It's very much a slowly, slowly approach.

6. It's addictive - once you have the bug there's no going back. It's still good to put that bug to good use though. Set yourself your next goal and persist until you achieve it.

What other similarities have you found between running and leveraging social media? 

Do you agree/disagree with my list? 

Specialising in professional services and law firm marketing. I help firms to retain and grow existing clients and attract more of their ideal clients. My core services include social media for lead generation, voice of the client programmes and tender strategy and development. Outside of work I love to run. I’m a bit like Forest Gump in that I’m not that quick but can keep going for ages. I also enjoy coming up with new inventions. Unfortunately, most of them have already been invented! | * Professional services marketing consultant | * Legal marketing consultant | * Law firm marketing consultant