Can a backyard full of clover relate to social media? Actually it can, and does, in a lot more ways than you would expect. Let’s take a look at social media from a more “earthy” perspective.
In my neighborhood, one point of pride is the condition of our lawns. Starting early in the Spring soon after the snow melts away, the entire neighborhood gets to work fertilizing, grooming and manicuring their yards in an attempt to be “the best on the block.” Some outsource the work to local lawn care companies, while others like myself take a do-it-yourself approach. That’s not to say that one approach is better than another, rather it’s just a matter of personal preference and resources (time, money, etc.). Since I have more time than money, it’s a no-brainer. I do it myself.
Keeping my entire yard looking great Spring to Fall is an ongoing effort. However, despite the considerable amount of time, effort and expense that I have put into my it this season, the condition of my lawn took a turn for the worse over the past few weeks. No, it wasn’t dandelions–I waged a war against them earlier in the Spring. It wasn’t crabgrass either; that was last year’s problem. This year my nemesis is Trifolium, more commonly known as clover. In some circles, clover is a symbol of good luck, but to me it’s become the bane of my existence. Despite my best effort, those little white flowers continue to sprout up and taunt me every time I look at my backyard.
Knowing that I had followed all prescribed actions for all of the treatments that I applied to my lawn, I was at a complete loss. I checked with friends, family and neighbors but all suggested things that I’d already done. I looked through a number of lawn care books, and again came up with nothing new. As a last-ditch effort, prior to accepting my fate as a clover farmer for the summer, I decided to Google the problem to see what, if anything, I could do to get the problem under control. Remarkably, it didn’t take long–in fact the first link of my first search yielded not only the answer but also the “root” cause. That was the good news. The bad news was that the answer was right there before my eyes–but I never took the time to see it.
The presence of clover in my yard, I learned, was a sign that I wasn’t doing what I needed to do. Clover thrives in low nitrogen soil, so its abundance in my lawn was suggesting that the nitrogen levels in my soil was really low. With the cause identified, the next step was to determine how to correct it. While commercial fertilizer is definitely one source of nitrogen, the best sources are organic. In fact one of the most effective, natural and lowest cost sources of nitrogen are the grass clippings themselves.
Therein lie the problem and solution. As I thought about my lawn care practices over the past few years, I realized that I alternated between bagging the grass clippings and mulching my lawn. This year, however, I haven’t. I’ve bagged the grass every time I cut it. Interestingly, because I composted the first few cuts of the year, the section of my lawn closest to my compost pile is nearly clover-free. The lesson: Mulch my lawn so I am returning necessary nutrients to the soil.
So to bring this full-circle, here’s how clovers and social media go hand in hand. Let’s call it the Four-Leaf Clover of Social Media Success.
- If an effort or strategy isn’t working like you think it should be, take a step back and scan the entire landscape. Sometimes the solution is right there for you to find. So if your blog posts aren’t being commented on, tweets aren’t being retweeted or your AdWords campaigns are yielding sufficient click-throughs, there may be some simple steps that you can take to fix the problem. The best way to get blog comments is to comment on other blogs. The best way to get retweeted is to tweet information worthy of being tweeted–and to retweet other tweets that you find valuable. The best way to increase your click-through rate on AdWords is to make sure that your ads are clear, concise and compelling–and targeted to the audience you want to reach.
- It’s not always about what you’re doing–it’s often about what you’re not doing. Getting so caught up in what I had done to cause my lawn to rebel led me to ignore what I should be doing now. Similarly, if you post a new entry on your blog and nobody views it or comments on it, there’s obviously was something wrong with it, right? Not so fast. Let’s assume that what you posted is concise, well-written and engaging. Then what? Well, if you aren’t getting your posts in front of your potential audience via channels like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and RSS feeds, you are missing an tremendous opportunity. Additionally, get active and stay visible in your subject matter’s community, both online and in person.
- Don’t be afraid to look for solutions yourself (and ask for help if you need it). Rather than try to solve the problem myself from scratch, I should have done some primary research first. Even if I hadn’t found an exact answer, I’d be armed with more knowledge to ask more informed questions. Then even if I had to tap into an expert for more info, I would get a lot more out of the discussion. The same goes for social media. You’ll get far more out of your exchanges if you are clear and concise with what your asking. Most experts are more than willing to help, but they also have a finite amount of time to dedicate to helping others–so make it easy to help them. And don’t forget that it’s a two-way street: you’ll get a lot more from others if you are seen doing the same.
- You get out of your efforts what you put in. I wasn’t putting enough nitrogen/nutrients into my lawn and, in turn, my lawn was yielding clover. As it turns out, I was getting exactly out of my lawn what I was putting in: nothing. Social media is no different. It takes time, energy and a concerted effort and your return is tied directly and proportionately to your investment. If you take the time to nurture good relationships, cultivate good content and provide value in all of your interactions, your yield will be significantly greater than had you not.
For those just getting started or dabbling in social media, it can seem complex and confusing, but it’s really not nearly as difficult as you want to think it is. By being strategic, thoughtful, solution-minded and committed – the four leaves of the clover – I’m confident that you’ll find your four leaf clover.