Five reasons why social media is like … a game of pool

This week, five reasons why social media is like a game of pool, continuing on from why social media is like a dinner table conversation or high school.

Five reasons why social media is like … a game of pool

1. Because even if you’re snookered, you’re not out of the game.

In pool (or snooker), one of the tactics available to you is to try to trap your opponent so they can’t easily make a move.  It’s called being snookered.  If you are snookered in pool, you take a penalty, lose a shot but YOU CONTINUE THE GAME.

That’s the same in social media.  If you’re snookered (a customer complains on social media, you’re caught out doing something you’re not proud of or your products are held up to ridicule), you take your penalty and KEEP PLAYING.

The reason I raise this is because I already know of two organisations this year who had things go badly for them, so they buried their heads and avoided the situation.  You can’t do that in social media – it won’t go away – and your silence actually amplifies the problem.

2. Because strategy is involved, not just blasting away hoping you’ll score some points.

A good game of pool requires some strategy, not just stepping up to the table and hitting the ball as hard as you can.  The good players are thinking two or three shots ahead.  It’s not a power game, it’s a game of finesse and straetgy.

If you’re a player in social media, you also need to think two or three ‘shots’ ahead.  Once you’ve posted, you need to know what’s next.  If you tweet, you need to know how that fits into your plan.  Social media programs that are the equivalent of you blasting away occasionally won’t build up the right momentum that will generate business for you.  It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality.

3. Because anyone can play – regardless of their skill level.

One of the best things about a game of pool is that anyone can play.  They may not be brilliant at it but they can still step up to the table and have a go.

One of the best things about social media is that anyone can have a go.  It’s easy, it’s free of licensed software (most of the time) and it’s unfiltered.

One of the worst things about social media is that anyone can have a go.   In business terms, this may be an issue for you if you have an organisation that has decentralised its social media contribution.  Anyone can do it, but that doesn’t mean they’ll automatically do it well.  You might need to work with them.

4. Because there are sharks who’ll take your money if you let them.

Forever immortalised in movies like The Color of Money, pool halls contain people who are professionals at what they do – and taking your money is part of that repertoire.  At the end of the night, they’ve played you and taken your money with them.  From your perspective, you’ve had some fun and now you’re worse off for it.

Unfortunately, social media also has sharks.  I know – I’ve dealt with some of them.  From people running workshops that demand I upload my business to social media through to consultants who are charging $2,000 a month to run my Facebook profile for me, there are people out there who are focussing on getting you into social media as soon as possible – but mainly for their benefit, not yours.

I’ve been on the web for nearly 20 years and there have always been sharks – people who tell you your business needs to do x, y or z in order to grow your business.  And, here’s the shock, they specialise in x, y or z!

The key to avoiding sharks in social media is to take a balanced view.  Also, your biggest weapon here is the word ‘WHY’.  If someone tells you you just HAVE to do Facebook in the next five minutes or you’ll go bankrupt, then challenge them.  WHY will I go bankrupt?  WHY will I lose business if I’m not on Twitter?  WHY do you charge $2,000 a month to update posts. I have asked these questions at least 10 times this year already and I’m yet to get an answer that actually makes sense to me … so I don’t fall for it.  (Especially the answer the question about why I should be charged $2,000 a month.  The guy offering this just stood there like a goldfish with his mouth noiselessly opening and closing).

5. Because the people that are best at it make it look like it is second nature.

I’ve sat back in awe at really skilled at playing pool or billiards and I’ve been amazed at how they’ve just pot ball after ball with seemingly little effort.  They’ve moved around the table with little effort and their next shot always seems to work.

That’s the same with social media.  I’ve sat back and watched people who run successful social media strategies and they’ve done it seemingly with no effort.  They post regularly.  They respond easily.  They come up with creative effortlessly.

Do you know how they’ve arrived at this point?  In most cases, it’s consistent practice.  That’s not to suggest that they sit there and pretend they’re posting, but they do develop a discipline over time.

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