Flexing My Social Media Knowledge

social media challenge

As an early product of the social media generation, I was raised in the world of AIM, MySpace, and LiveJournal, which were later replaced by platform giants, like Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress. By nature, my peers and I have all become social media mavens, allowing it to become an inherent part of our lives.

In fact, social media is so engrained in my day-to-day that the first time I was asked, “How do you know when to use a hashtag?” I struggled to find the words to describe it. (Note: “You just know” is apparently not sufficient.) Now, however, after three years of working professionally in the social media world, I don’t just understand social media, I can explain it with ease.

Because of my work-life, I often find myself to be hypercritical, studying and scrutinizing other social campaigns to pinpoint those strategies that I think are successful…and those that are not.

More recently, I’ve discovered something in my personal life that I want to share with all of you. Along with millions of other New Year’s “resolutioners”, I’m taking January to cleanse after the massive amount of sugar I consumed over the holidays. Instead of making a rash resolution that I’d drop in a month, I decided to set a small goal and participate in a one-month fitness challenge hosted by a blogger, in addition to my regular running routine. It’s only Day 2, and I’m already limping around the CGR Creative office, so it’s safe to say that “challenge” is a massive understatement.

Each Saturday, we’re sent workouts and suggested meal plans for the following week. Workouts and kale salads aside, the biggest difficulty for me so far has been eliminating coffee. That’s right. The New Year’s fitness challenge I’m participating in is coffee-free. You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Despite the massive headache and low-caffeine stupor I’m currently enduring, I’ve almost made it through the second workday without coffee and am doing…okay. (Just being honest. I need a latte, stat.)

All of the above are fine and dandy, but, thanks to my background in social media, the part that I’m most mesmerized with is the social media aspect of this challenge/campaign. As part of the challenge, you are “required” to join a private Facebook group, where you can share and interact with fellow participants.

The notifications have been coming in by the minute. Participants empathize over the tough workouts, ask questions, share meal ideas, and support one another. And this is where it interests me. I’m used to exercising alone. As a runner, much of my time spent training is spent alone. It’s an extra mental challenge, but it also makes it more difficult to motivate myself. With this challenge, I may be exercising and eating alone (#lonelygirlproblems), but because of the supportive social media community, it doesn’t feel nearly as solitary. For instance, this morning, I woke up and tried to find reasons to skip today’s workout. And then I logged onto Facebook and caught up on posts from challenge participants.

“Day 2! You can do this!” they said.
“I’m up early to do this workout. Who’s joining me?” they asked.

If these people are doing it, I thought, then so can I.

So I dragged myself out of bed, turned on my favorite Pandora pump-up station, and completed the workout. And, truth be told, it was all because of the positive messages I was receiving from social media posts.

A strange motivator for me in these very early days of this challenge has been the feeling of being accountable on social media. Deep down, I know that no one would notice if I neglected to post about my workout, I know that no one would know if I lied, and I know that, truly, no one cares. But the feeling of working towards a goal with a group of like-minded people keeps me going, and in a weird way, seeing their posts ignites my competitive side as much as my motivated one.

What is most interesting about the social media aspect of all of this is that it is almost entirely member-led. The challenge’s coordinator is occasionally posting motivational comments and sharing her own daily meals and workouts, but the real engagers are the participants. She created a group, manages the workouts, and shares occasional tips to the group page, but the biggest participants have, by far, been the group’s participants.

As an engager with this campaign, here are a couple of quick takeaways for running a successful social media campaign. Some of these we already know, but it never hurts to reiterate important tips:

1. Do something that appeals to your specific audience. This blogger’s audience is full of runners, yogis, and people looking to be more fit. A fitness campaign with a few competitive twists? Duh. We eat this stuff up!

2. Make the conversation engaging. This is one I’ve shared with you in other posts, but it’s crucial and definitely worth repeating. If there’s anything I’ve noticed about the health and fitness community specifically, it’s that they are very active on social media. They share their workouts, post pictures of their #cleaneats, and talk about their fitness endeavors on social media. This campaign appeals to that aspect of their social media behaviors.

3. Don’t be too salesy. What I mean here is this: When it comes to engaging, your participants and followers don’t care as much about your product as about how your product relates to them. This challenge appears successful because it is driving traffic to this blogger’s website and social media platforms without trying too hard. For instance, she uses an easy to remember hashtag and encourages us to tag her blog in our tweets and photos. We are sharing our own seemingly personal social media accomplishments but, in turn, are driving traffic to her site.

4. Engage with your participants. Although the challenge coordinator doesn’t post nearly as much as the engagers, I’ve noticed that she likes and comments on almost every post within minutes. Also, she and her brand are both incredibly likable, and people tend to want to engage with brand voices that they like.

5. Make it shareable. How did I hear about this challenge? On social media! And I’m sure I’m not the only one. By making it a social campaign geared to her particular audience, people have shared, reviewed, and encouraged their friends to join.
I’m so used to being on the other side of the fence for social media campaigns (the management side) that I rarely get to enjoy being an engager. Social media is a constant conversation, and this has been a great opportunity to join the conversation even more than before.

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