"Son, paint's the last thing you do when you're painting a house."
My father's words of many years ago as his naive son attempted to dive into a Victorian house reclamation that needed much more than paint. In many ways it was a parable for life- and my first real lesson in social media- a decade before social media even existed.
I remember my father telling me to put down my yellow paint as he walked me around my newly-purchased labor of love. He pointed out dry-rot window sills, faulty gutters, and awnings that needed to be scraped down to bare wood if I was to expect this paint job to last. Needless to say I was deflated- I just wanted to take my new brushes, my hand-selected paint and- well- paint! Right that moment. I didn't want to do all that prep work, invest all that time doing the thankless, toil-laden steps that I now realized needed to be done in order to achieve my goal of a painting my house. This, my fellow social media enthusiasts, is the same challenge we all face in today's social media landscape.
Prep work- no one wants to do it- it's time consuming and slows down progress, right? Wrong! It stops us from making mistakes and ending up with a social media house that's in need of an expensive new paint job time and again! Remember, paint is not just eyewash- it protects and promotes our houses- and in this analogy our "brand-houses." But, it has to be done right!
I've worked with corporate clients big and small, and have been charged with running social media for DoD and now with SHRM. And, I've always started by asking: what are our strategic objectives, who's our audience, how do we create a sustainable team, and where does our content come from? These are the wood replacing, scraping, caulking, and priming steps individuals and organizations must roll their sleeves up and do before applying any paint to our social media houses. Social media is no different than any other communications medium- there must be an objective, an audience, and a strategy in place before we post one update on Facebook or tweet one tweet.
My dad doesn't know Twitter from Instagram and uses neither- but when I talk to him today I remind him that he was my first social media mentor- telling me to set my paint down and lay the foundation for painting long before I start. Thanks dad!