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Social Media Marketing

In just about every organization, the focus is on action.  The connotations of words such as goals, objectives, action plans, and status updates are all positive, and are viewed as necessary for organizational, professional, and personal success.   (Even these Tipsheets, some 600 of them, each end with This Week’s Action Plan). 

Yet is the path to achievement exclusively achieved through action?  Or is action necessary, but not necessarily sufficient?

Said another way, if the focus is on action, urgency, and getting things done, is something being lost in the process? Can an organization (or you as an individual) do better with less action, and more of something else? 

Strangely, the answer is yes.  We can spend time thinking – the most underrated activity around.  We typically don’t do it for several reasons: it’s hard.  We are out of practice.  We’re stretched for time.  And there is a bias against it: Thinking looks strangely like “sitting around”… doing nothing.

So what is the case for spending time thinking?  A few of the benefits:

  • Setting direction:  How do we know what we are doing will lead us to where we need to go?  Explicit time on planning ensures that we are taking the most direct, and effective route to our goals.
  • Connecting the dots:  We live and work in a complex world; when we act quickly, we may not consider the implications on existing processes and people.  Thinking time helps us identify these moving parts, and build better alignment.  It also provides an opportunity to incorporate others’ (better) perspectives. 
  • Motivation: The pause of thinking helps answer the questions of why and how, and provides an energizing mental break that makes future action more meaningful – and often, more effective.   
  • Creativity:  Intuitive leaps and creative solutions are only possible when time is allocated to them.    Time opens the gates of possibility.
  • Internalization:  Whether it be a high-level mission statement or a colleague’s new idea, thinking time allows for internalization – the first step in using the information within your own thinking. 
  • Risk reduction:  While most people would not willingly jump off a cliff, sometimes unthinking action is doing precisely that.  Time allows us to both consider any pitfalls, and increase the probability of successful action. 

Yet despite these benefits, many people do not have the time to actually sit and think.  Or are uninspired about scheduling a block of time in their calendar to spend time thinking.  Here’s the good news: there are literally hundreds of more inspiring (and practical) ways to spend time thinking.  Here are 11 of them: 

  1. Hire a coach: Too many leaders spend time in the business, not on the business. Regular coaching forces thinking time, with the added bonus of external accountability. 
  2. Mentoring:  Helping others helps you process from a different perspective.  Being mentored opens you to different approaches to solving your problems.   
  3. Keeping a journal, or blogging:  Writing is really the process of organizing your thoughts so others can more easily understand.  Regular writing forces regular thinking. 
  4. Teaching: Thinking happens both in the preparation and in the delivery of your content.  The interaction with students also exposes you to different ways of thinking, which is valuable in and of itself.
  5. Public speaking: While the delivery of a speech is certainly important, the vast majority of time is actually spent in the preparation: research, structuring, and writing. 
  6. Formal education:  Sadly, most people stop their formal education upon graduation, perhaps under the impression that they have learned all they ever can learn. Attending professional development courses, earning a professional certification, or pursuing part-time graduate studies institutionalizes thinking time, with the double benefit of getting exposed to new ideas and new people.
  7. Go outside the box:  This may mean registering for personal interest courses, reading books outside of your professional sphere (history, science, biographies, etc) or seeking exposure to other cultures or languages.  A new (or different) stimulus will help you look at existing issues in a new way.  
  8. While you exercise: Beyond the physical benefits of exercise, most people have experienced that “big” problems often become less daunting after exercise than before.  While your body is working hard at exercise, your mind is working hard on solving the problems of the day.
  9. Early morning: Schedule time early in the morning, before the bustle of the day.  (Here is a challenge: schedule thinking time from 6-7am each morning for a month – your return on this investment will be more than you can imagine.)
  10. Writing weeks: Schedule an extended time period away to focus on larger, deeper thinking projects.  (This is when I tackle book-writing.)
  11. In transit: Whether it be in public transit, long-distance business travel, or in your car, transit is a gift of time: why not use it to listen to thoughtful podcasts or keep a journal?  (About 50% of these Tipsheets are written on the subway!)

The beauty of thinking is that we are all fully equipped with all of the tools we need: our brain.  It’s just a matter of using it.

This week’s action plan:  Thinking may be hard if you’re out of practice, so schedule a specific time to do it this week, and each week going forward. That’s it.  

Marketing Insight #1:  Like our body’s muscular systems, the more the brain is exercised, the better and more efficient it becomes.  If an organization truly wishes to operate at peak efficiency, then it must not just hire smart people, but also require them to think.  

Marketing Insight #2:  Notwithstanding the importance of thinking time, the case for action cannot be overstated.  Getting things done is difficult, and thus too many organizations (and people) are paralyzed by inaction.  The best outcome is always when both thinking and action occur together, and when an organization’s culture rewards both.  

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders


How much spam do you get in your email box each day?  Probably too much.  How many Social Media “updates” do you read each day?  Probably too many.  And how relevant are they?  Not.

In the past, the challenge that marketers faced – cutting through the clutter – was solved by shouting louder, and shouting in more places.  If only you noticed their message, and did so often, the more likely you would act on it.

The promise of digital marketing was simple: deliver the right message, to the right person, at the right time.  This was achieved through four main strategies:

1) Search Engine Marketing meant that the message would only appear in context.  If you were searching for widgets, then only advertisements related to widgets would appear. The ads would not be intrusive, and, so the theory went, they would be welcomed.

2) Social Media Marketing meant that the message would arrive with validation from your connections.  Your trusted circle would like or share a commercial message that resonated with them, and you would be more open to it because of this.  You would appreciate the heads up, and view the message (or brand) positively.

3) Content Marketing meant that the message would arrive, either via email or on the web, as stealth “branded content”.  Supposedly educational, this content would contain seeds of bias – or sometimes even a blatant marketing message near the end of the article.  Because these generally sought to educate or entertain, you would view the brand as positive.  That is, however, if you didn’t feel used or cheated by the hidden motives behind the content.

4) Exceptionally low execution cost.  Compared with a TV ad campaign, sending an email or posting online is practically free.  And at the same time, user behavior can be tracked, resulting in exceptionally powerful “big data” that can later be mined.

It seems as if technology has gone wild: just because a marketer can do something, they feel compelled to do it.  As a result of these factors, individuals again face the problem digital marketing was supposed to fix: too much clutter and intrusive “shouting” by marketers.  Users are becoming numb.

Is there a solution?  Perhaps digital marketers need to reconsider the “old”, precisely because it can cut through the digital clutter.  This can mean anything from brochures, to radio spots, personalized direct mail, or product sampling.  And it means actually picking up the phone and reaching out to prospective clients directly – not through an offshore call center.  The power of Social Media is in the relationships, not in the technology, and certainly not the campaign.

This week’s action plan:  Is your organization competing in a digital marketing shouting contest?  Reconsider how adding back real-world marketing activities can cut through the clutter.  Look back at your marketing plans from ten years ago: how did you reach your audience?  What channels did you use?  And what campaigns were the most effective?  Sometimes, what is old, becomes new again.

Marketing insight:  We need not travel 10 or 20 years to the past for the best marketing ideas; in fact, rekindling the old without taking into account today’s possibilities (and technology) seems a  bit silly.  Consider your old campaigns, and ask how digital marketing can amplify their effectiveness.  Then consider today’s real-world touchpoints, and ask how digital might be integrated.  Some examples:

  • A real-world event where the conversation continues online afterwards.
  • Twitter-based customer service that is empowered to solve problems, not just empathize online.
  • Social Media discounts that drive real-world transactions.
  • Location-based text messages that give personalized marketing offers.

It isn’t a question of digital vs traditional, but rather how each can leverage and extend the other to achieve your marketing goals.

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)
:  Professional credentials site
.com: Web strategy, technology, and development
:  Interviews with the nation’s thought-leaders