Those who have followed my writing or heard me speak know that I like to compare the digital world to the real ‘analog’ world in order to better explain things.
One metaphor I’ve been using recently is the idea of social marketing as agriculture. When farming, we wait for a season, we sow, we nurture and ultimately if all goes well, we harvest.
I view social media marketing as planting seeds of a direct selling community. Seeds are inexpensive, but they require lots of care and time. They must be fed and watered in order to grow. When they do, they produce amazing bounty.
Sometimes you can’t wait for a harvest, so you hit the store and pick exactly what you want. This is my analog for “paid search”, buying Adwords or Facebook ads, for example. If you are willing to pay, you can just walk up and have your fill. But it will cost you.
The point is, just like farming, social media should be viewed as a long term – and very vital – activity. It won’t solve all of your problems, and it won’t necessarily provide an explicit return on investment (ROI) early on. But do it right, and social media will return an entire field (notice the pun?) of riches over time, when merely picking becomes unsustainable.
If you don’t plant, and strategically pick, you won’t eat.