Building Brands: The 30-month mindset


by Sarah McDonough

Looking to build a credible brand through Social Media? Embrace the 30-month mindset.

“Let’s make a viral video!”

“But can you just, like, buy followers?”

Raise your hand if you’ve ever heard – or even uttered – some version of those phrases during a brainstorm centered around ways to establish thought leadership via social media. Go on, we aren’t here to judge!

The hard truth of the matter is that a viral video, by nature of having the word viral (stemming from virus) in it, is not something that can be manufactured and controlled…even if you just, like, buy followers to increase the video’s view count.

Working in a client services industry, or marketing in any capacity, where success is 100% attributed to results, helping your client understand that there is no quick way to gain relevant, credible thought leadership via social media can be a real struggle.

Earlier this year, a few members of the Double Forte team had the opportunity to attend Social Media Marketing World where the clear consensus was this: successful social media marketing comes from the quality of audience a brand engages with, not the quantity of the audience. Layman’s terms? Engage with a small but mighty team of followers to drive your brand where it matters rather than becoming yet another scroll-past post.

Mark Schaefer, author of five best-selling marketing books, put it this way: embrace the 30-month mindset. When starting from scratch, or even when implementing a re-brand, overnight success is rarely attainable and often unsustainable. Counsel your clients and team members to understand that a solid social media marketing plan will take an average of 2.5 years to see its goals fully achieved.

We get it. Thirty months sounds like a long time. But level-setting expectations from the get-go is the most realistic way to achieve measurable results. Schaefer recommends the following approach:

  • Find a place (subject matter) where you want to focus – even in a busy space (food blogging, for example), find a value to serve within that segment (i.e. family, ingredients, humor).
  • Find a space – an underserved or uncontested niche. Do a Google search of the niche you’re thinking of. If there are less than 500,000 search results, you may have a shot. 500k-1m may be a struggle. 1m+ is near-impossible to crack.
  • Content – what is your source of rich content? Pick ONE (blogs, podcasts, video). Ignore what competitors are doing and  stay focused for 1-2 years and learn to do it well.
  • Audience – the value of your content is zero unless people see it and share it. Build the right audience — an actionable audience.

Accepting that building brand awareness through social media success is a long-tail exercise can be a tough pill to swallow, but when relevance and sustainability are the goals, it’s a necessary pill.