Digital Strategy Mantra – Have a goal, have a plan and have success! We strategist love to repeat that mantra to our clients because it’s hip and it makes sense. There is only one problem. More times that not, the plan used in a social media marketing campaigns is a rehash of the same ole’ stuff. Just like a Lifehacks solution, one size does not fit all. Limited vision and status quo sometimes ruin the plan. Lessons can be learned from “The Zen of Christmas Light Packing and Storage.”
I’m a huge Christmas Freak. As I like to say, I go full Griswold. One of my favorite and most time consuming tasks for the Christmas season is to see if I can put nuclear reactors on reserve power by lighting my house so it can be seen from Pluto. What I’ve learned over the last 10 years is that the task of putting the lights away is as important as the task of lighting my house. Why? Because well packed lights can save days on my next deployment. And just like your Social Media strategy, the packing of the lights requires a solid goal and a great plan.
As a lighting fanatic I’m always on the prowl for great new ideas and last year I came across a lifehack story about a great way to store Christmas Lights. Coffee Cans! Just wrap the lights around coffee cans. Could it be so simple?
Initially this seemed like a great, inexpensive (in lighting your always trying to save money) plan. Then I got to thinking. Well I can probably drum up two or three old coffee cans. The problem is I probably have about a gazillion strings of light, so unless I planned on spending my life savings on a bunch of coffee, this idea wasn’t practical (although probably good for my productivity). So I asked myself, could I drum up enough coffee cans for this task if I engaged my social network? That would be an inexpensive way to accomplish the task. I concluded I probably could find enough cans to solve the problem.
So I happily began the task of hitting the social networks and asking every person in the known universe for their old coffee containers ( I never knew that old coffee cans where in such demand. Does the coffee industry know this? I’m thinking new market opportunity). I quickly realized this task might be time consuming, but probably worth the effort.
Excited about my plan I gathered a few old coffee cans (hardware holders and bug catchers) and decided to give the idea a try to experience the genius. I quickly realized that the cans were slippery, not easy to turn and a bit awkward to deal with. And then I began to look at the coffee can and did some mental gymnastics trying to figure out how many would fit in a single container. How many would fit in a container wrapped with lights? How many lights could be wrapped on to a single coffee can? WAIT A MINUTE! This idea wasn’t going to work.
I frantically hit the social networks and relieved my network of the impending stress I caused prematurely.
The problem? The problem was that I was trying to take an idea and make it a solution instead of letting the solution form the idea. What I should have been doing is going back to my originally devised plan and seeing how I could make it better.
My main goal for lighting storage was to make sure that the lighting could be easily stored, tested and put up on the house. That goal included avoiding tangles and huge piles of lighting wire that took days to sort out. Note: My second year took me 4 weekends to put up the lights. Also, the storage space was limited. I had 4 huge plastic containers that would fit all my lights that barely fit the available space in my garage so space was a major concern. The original plan was to carefully wrap my wire using the “hand to elbow” method and lay the wire flat in the container all while trying to keep certain sections of the house in certain containers. And while this plan had some modest success is was far from great.
But the Lifehack article gave me a great idea. So I went back and looked at my plan and asked myself how I could address my goals more efficiently. The idea of the coffee can took care of a huge problem regarding tangles and breakage. But the coffee can’s would take up too much space and hurt my storage capabilities. How about 2×4′s. A 2×4 wasted much less space than a coffee can. A 2×4 could be easily labeled and a 2×4 could be cut to custom lengths for different sections of lights. The 2×4 was the perfect solution for my holiday lighting storage. Did it address all my goals?
- No Tangles - Check (improvement)
- Easily Removed – Check (improvement)
- Easily Tested - Check (Vastly improved, and I can now test large strings instead of individual strings)
- Sorted – Check (Vastly improved, not only can I sort by container I can sort by 2×4. I can also label – no guessing)
- Storage – Check ( I could store in the same set of containers – drawback extra weight)
Going back and addressing my original goals helped me ask the correct questions to find the perfect plan. This years lights went up without a hitch. The system was flawless. And it was flawless because I went back to my goals and adjusted the plan. The new plan more successfully addressed my goal then did the previous plan.
Just like your social media solution should start with a goal that develops a perfect plan… a strategy.
In my career I’ve run into WAY too many clients that had vendors that loved to deploy “tactics”, things they’ve read as tips and tricks in social media, that had absolutely zero value for the client. To sum it up. Those agencies were trying to apply a coffee can solution to a social media problem that required a 2×4.
We are in a phase of social media where many clients, executives and companies are now seeing a need to be involved in this vast social media landscape. But we also happen to be in a phase of social media where there are a very large number of agencies, vendors and experts that have no practical experience and are trying to apply social media solutions to companies problems via the ‘tips and tricks’ blogs they’ve read somewhere in the blogosphere.
Social media is a real tool that can provide companies with numerous new channels for customer acquisition, lead generation and branding. But the solutions that exist are as varied and numerous as the clients that use them. When seeking a vendor, agency or expert make sure your not going to get a coffee can solution for a 2×4 problem. When you hire your digital expert make sure he/she knows the “Zen of Christmas Light Packing an Storage.” Otherwise your house might not get lit next year.