Playing the Long Game

Book On How To Find LoveShortcut. Silver bullet. Hidden passageway. Secret. So many people want one or want to unlock one and sell it to everyone for profit.

In fact, the number of ‘unlocked secrets to…’ that I’ve seen advertised is off the charts. This says to me that these schemes work. Not the secrets themselves, but the schemes to get people to pay for the secrets.

I actually paid for one of these years ago. It was the secret to dating. I was desperate. I suffered a string of bad relationships and then even worse dating disasters. An ad kept showing up in my social networks that spoke to me, “You have the wrong approach to dating. Let John* tell you how to do it right and find love!” (*I can’t actually remember his name, but it was something like John) I clicked it and watched the 15 minute teaser video and scrolled down those endless teaser testimonials and found myself spending the $24.95 for the secret to finding love PDF.

And guess what? It was everything that everyone had ALREADY told me for FREE: “Focus on yourself and being the best person you can be.” “Don’t look for love, look to be content with life.” “Build your confidence. Men love a woman with confidence.” “Stop trying to meet someone, it will lead to bad decisions.” I felt ripped off. These weren’t secrets! They were hard!

The secret wasn’t a secret. John preyed on my laziness. I deserved it. I was hoping to find a silver bullet when I knew that there were none. Shortcuts to dieting? Eat less of the bad food, more of the good food…exercise. D’uh. Shortcuts to wealth? Work hard, invest well, save money, stop spending needlessly, etc. D’uh. We all know this and, yet, we continue to fall prey to shortcut schemes.

It’s also my biggest frustration with marketing today, too. Too many apps and schemes offering a short cut to quick likes and views and followers, but very few companies want to play the long game. A few days ago, I talked about how throwing money at your social strategy produces shallow results while investing over the long-term in great, engaging content is a much better strategy.

The “secret” is in the long game.The “secret” is that being successful in online communities takes time and listening and flexibility and all sorts of things you can’t buy. The “secret” is that, yes, there will be pain in the short-term, but way more benefits in the long-term.

Playing the long game means that you set longer term goals and build a strategy that gets you to achieving those goals in more meaningful ways. Instead of views on YouTube, you want subscribers (real people who opt-in to follow you and enjoy your content). Instead of likes on Facebook, you want engagement (real people who click, like, share and comment on your posts on a regular basis). Instead of retweets and followers on Twitter, you want conversations and interactions (retweets and followers are great if they are real people who love your tweets, but a poor strategy if you buy followers or retweets).

Playing the long game means you will have the incredible advantage of having real, engaged followers for the long term. These relationships will be real, not bought. Earned. Owned.

Playing the long game his a bigger impact overall. Leads to loyalty. Business longevity. Is completely sustainable. And scales.

I understand from my experience that part of the panic is the uncertainty of the long game. If not today, when? Can you guarantee me success if I put in the hard work and focus on the right things? No. Perhaps in dieting and saving money, but rarely when human relationships are involved. But there is even less of a guarantee that the short-term thinking will result in anything. The results that are advertised are cosmetic, not real. In fact, it will probably damage your potential in online communities.

When I stopped buying PDFs and started actually taking the free advice from my friends, I found love. Well, actually, he’ll tell you that he found me. I was no longer desperate or in a hurry or making bad short-term calls. I let it happen naturally by being the best person I could be and then I attracted a fantastic man who I’m still with two and a half years later. The long game rocks.

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Categories: community, eMarketing, featured, marketing, social capital

Author:Tara Hunt

Strategist. Researcher. Interdisciplinarian. Founder, Lime Foundry + Buyosphere. Author, The Whuffie Factor. Speaker. Mother. Karaoke lover.

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4 Comments on “Playing the Long Game”

  1. June 28, 2013 at 19:13 #

    “Instead of likes on Facebook, you want engagement (real people who click, like, share and comment on your posts on a regular basis).”

    I’m glad marketers have finally caught up to this, but I’d take it one step further. You not only want people to be engaged–you want them to buy something from you. We have clients who pay us thousands of dollars a month for marketing software that we’ve never engaged with on social media. Yet, they happily pay us for stuff.

    As I mentioned to my fiance the other day (he works at an agency), I can easily get “engagement” by talking about hot-button political issues. I got plenty of engagement on my recent posts about Wendy Davis. Lots of likes, shares, and comments. But no one bought anything. And why should they?

    Engagement is easier than sales. Linkbait–good or bad–drives engagement. Driving sales is a much more nuanced (yet interesting) process. It’s why my company is building marketing software–because I’m so passionate about measuring the metrics that count in your business. And if your business isn’t sustainable, it doesn’t matter how much engagement you have. Tough, but true.

    • June 28, 2013 at 20:39 #

      Very good point. Being “entertaining” (ie. linkbait) is easy. But converting that engagement to paying customers is much harder. :)

  2. July 1, 2013 at 01:15 #

    You want views AND subscribers on YouTube, in my opinion. Mastering view acquisition has its financial and mass marketing advantages. You are right in saying that subscribers, however, have a more enduring repeat-view/relationship/customer value, though, in the new layout, subscribers don’t necessarily see your content show up in their feeds. I am sure that will eventually be corrected.

  3. July 4, 2013 at 11:53 #

    Being in any relationship, whether in business or in personal interaction always takes time. Nothing that is rushed or forced can ever retain as much personal meaning, and will always seem disingenuous.

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