Or why sailors may make the best Social Media consultants!
There are many analogies between pastimes and business, but because I’m a sailor I have been struck by the parallels between sailing and Social Media. I also happen to think that business generally is best-served when sailors – or would-be sailors – are at the helm: they have faith in their skill, their vessel and their ability to navigate even the worst of tempests.
Here then are five parallels between sailing and Social Media for business (you may think of more and I welcome feedback):
1. You can’t control the wind It is always true: You cannot control the wind, only the trim of your sails and heading of your boat. The winds of public opinion and customer satisfaction are unpredictable and constantly swirling. As a business you need to be aware of those winds and their subtle or not-so-subtle shifts. Social Media monitoring allows the business enterprise to react to sudden squalls of bad publicity and to get the most out of any favorable “winds” of opinion that come your way.
2. When bad weather hits When bad weather hits … as it assuredly will: You, your vessel and your crew had better be prepared. Davey Jones’ Locker is lined with the boats and crews who set out ill-prepared for sudden changes in the weather. The same will happen to businesses ill-prepared to handle a crisis within their community and their customer base. A professional and rigorous Social Media Plan will help a business know what to do when the sudden tempests hit. It will also allow the “captain” to sleep well at night knowing his business and his “crew” are prepared and have a plan for any eventuality.
3. A well-founded sailboat is a sum of its efficient working parts Just as a sailboat moves forward through a combination of hull shape, sails, masts and rigging, a business in the Social Media space needs to be about the combination of the right elements to keep it moving forward. A professional Social Media Plan will assess existing strengths, competitive threats and business goals to come up with the correct combination of parts to keep your business sailing forward.
4. The quickest route to port is NOT always a straight line Like sailing, business in the Social Media world must navigate all kinds of challenges to get to its goals. Along the way there are likely to be winds (customer feedback) and currents (the business climate) that challenge a business trying to get to its port (business goals). The best-laid Social Media Plans will include contingencies to deal with these. Although the course may be less than perfectly straight, the business will get to its goals ahead of its competitors.
5. You can, and sometimes WILL, find yourself becalmed What do you do if forward motion ceases? What can you do with the time on your hands? This is not something to fear. A thorough Social Media Plan includes a list of “To Do” items that are not pressing, but certainly help make the enterprise if not stronger at least better able to make the most of the next opportunity. Remember that the “calm usually comes right before the storm.” Using it to ready your business is just smart sailing!