In marathon running there is a phenomenon called 'hitting the wall.' It refers to a point in the race where the runner is hit by a sudden wave of exhaustion coupled with a loss of energy.
The runner starts doubting whether they can continue and wondering how they will finish.
The majority of the firms I work with 'hit the wall' at one of two points during their social media strategy :
- At the start
- After the initial ideas have run out
At The Start
This might come as a surprise to some but often people 'hit the wall' before they even start.
Why? Because they are so overwhelmed by all the options available and everything that they want to achieve, they don't know where to begin. They have plenty of ideas and even a clear goal to aim for but that first step is so hard, they don't take it.
Here's the problem :
An ideas is just a line on a to-do list. The more ideas you have, the bigger the to-do list. One of the most daunting things in business is a giant to-do list. It's a reminder of things we haven't done yet.
Almost all digital marketing strategies start with a list of ideas. Titles for blog posts, subjects to tweet about, places to create links etc. Once they are all collated, someone has to sit down, action them and turn these ideas into reality.
Boom. There's the wall!
Here's the solution :
Hide your ideas away. Don't turn your ideas into a to-do list. Turn them into a useful library for you to reference whenever you need...an idea!
Take one of the blog post ideas and just starting writing your article. It doesn't matter where you write it, just start writing it. It's all about taking that first step or in this case, running through the wall.
After The Initial Ideas Run Out
This is the most common point that businesses 'hit the wall' at.
All the initial ideas when planning your social media strategy have gone. You've actioned them all and there's nothing left on the to-do list. At first this seems like a good thing but what do you do next? You have no new ideas and no library to draw upon.
Boom. There's the wall!
The problem is that after the initial planning, people think their responsibility for coming up with new ideas is over. It isn't. Coming up with ideas is a continuous process. Even if you have a fully stocked library of ideas, when inspiration hits, add it to the list.
Now, this is great advice from a 'prevention is better than cure' point of view but what do you do if you have already hit the wall? In this case, we can learn from what runners do when they hit the wall during a marathon :
1 - Give Yourself A Pep Talk
Don't be down on yourself for reaching this point. You've done amazingly well to get so far. A lot of companies would have given up already. Giving up now would undermine the good work you've previously done. Push through it.
2 - Pace Yourself
Remove the pressure of deadlines. Create new content when you are inspired rather than force yourself based on your schedule. As well as relieving pressure, the quality of your work will improve.
3 - Break Your Goals Into Small Pieces
Rather than thinking in terms of your long-term goals, set a short term goal such as 'create one blog post this week' or 'follow 100 relevant Twitter accounts.'
If you take care of the small goals, the long-term goals will take care of themselves.
This is also a good time to review your initial goals and see if they're still realistic and achievable. Maybe you have hit the wall because your strategy wasn't sustainable in the first place?
It's normal to hit the wall with your social media strategy. A lot of successful companies have done so and recovered from it. The main thing to remember is not to panic and not to give up. You can run through the wall and come out of the other side stronger. By following the advice above you will find that you can avoid the wall before you hit it or you can turn it around into a positive event.