Early last year, I discovered #yoga when I decided to tackle my usual “lose weight” New Year’s resolution in an unusual (for me!) way: by committing to forty days straight of yoga. HOT yoga, no less!
Forty days sped by and yoga practice quickly became an integral part of my life. Even during the subsequent long stretches of time away from my mat later in the year, the principles and gifts of yoga stayed with me and manifested in some really unexpected ways throughout my life – including in my approach to and understanding of social media marketing.
Here are six ways in which yoga can positively influence your social media marketing – and your life:
1. Be still and listen to the breath
Connecting to your breath through silent observation is one of the key tenets of yoga. Similarly, one of the earliest and most impactful activities of the social media journey for any company is listening. Before you set up snazzy social profiles, before you get caught up in the content marketing cycle, before you send a single Tweet – stop, be quiet, and listen.
Using keywords, your brand name, and other relevant / industry terms along with tools like Sprout Social (free to try / subscription), Mention.com (free to try / subscription) or a host of others – and applying a bit of patience and analysis you can uncover a wealth of critical information. Find out who’s talking about you, where the conversations are taking place, who in particular is having the most conversations- as well as the most influential conversations, based on the size of their own audience – and what else is of interest to those who are talking about you. Like the breath in yoga, the things you learn through social media listening are a guide: in this case, to what you should say, to whom, and where – all very fundamental questions which need answering as part the foundation of any sound social media strategy. This information is critical to getting a solid start on your social efforts – and seeing them lead to success.
2. Set Your Intention
At the beginning of a yoga class or session, yogis are encouraged to set an intention for their practice. Similarly, you must have goals for your social media activities. These goals should be relevant to the key performance indicators (KPI’s) for your company in general, so that there is a meaningful way to measure the success of, or the need to optimize your program.
Social goals should be specific, so they can be measured. “Drive brand awareness” is a good goal, but difficult to measure due to lack of specificity. However, when stated more concretely, such as “increase share of voice in social media by X percent (ensuring of course that “X” represents a challenging but achievable number) – that’s a target that can be aimed for and clearly hit. “Provide better Customer Care” is better expressed in terms of goals as something along the lines of “increase our Customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores by X percent by increasing Customer Care activities in social media” =, as you can actually measure your success against that ideal.
3. Be Authentic
In yoga, acceptance of yourself just as you are is an enduring theme. Whether you’re struggling to hold a twisting pose or trying to stay steady in a handstand, where and who you are is exactly where or who you’re meant to be in that moment. This allows you to simply be, and is profoundly liberating.
Similarly in social, knowing who you are (as a brand) and then remaining steadfast to the spirit of that voice is the path to social enlightenment. Notice I said to the spirit of the voice. The truth is, too much rigidity with regard to voice, while it may make for a certain desirable degree of consistency, can be stifling to meaningful interactions. After all, no person or entity can truly be one way all the time. Sometimes a more compassionate, or more humorous approach is demanded by circumstances – and is fine if thoughtfully and appropriately applied.
4. Open Your Heart
Remember – everyone you deal with: leads, existing Customers, returning Customers, angry Customers, happy Customers, influencers – they’re more than just the sum of their usefulness to you – they’re PEOPLE.
As such, they like to be made to laugh (when it’s appropriate); they appreciate it when offered truly useful content that will help them out, or even just make them look cool/smarter/funny/edgy/clever in front of their social friends; they want to be helped out when they’ve got a beef with you, and they want to be treated like PEOPLE. So, make them laugh. Write or find/share with them TRULY useful content – the kind you’d like to see from the brands you follow yourself. Treat them well, with respect, kindness, and the highest regard at all times.
Remember the spirit of “namaste” – which literally means, “I bow to you” – or, as is commonly expressed, “the light in me recognizes the light in you”. Recognize the light in everyone you meet through your screen, and don’t be afraid to share just a bit of your heart with them as you do. Not only does it enhance their social experience and bond them to your brand – it’s good for YOU, too. Some of the most personally fulfilling points in my social media career to date have had little to do with engagement rates, number of shares or even sales driven; they came when I opened my heart to the person I was dealing with and made a true and lasting connection with them by sharing a laugh, or offering helpful tips, or working with them personally to resolve the issue they were having – and they expressed a deeper affinity for the brand as a result.
5. Live In Gratitude
One of the things I love about yoga is the recurring concept of gratitude. Even if you missed several poses, or couldn’t get into your handstand, there’s no beating yourself up over it in yoga – you’re just grateful you made it to your mat and you resolve to try again the next time you find yourself there.
Gratitude plays into social marketing as well, particularly when you have the good fortune to enjoy the presence of strong brand evangelists in your social communities. These wonderful folks – often former satisfied Customers, but sometimes just people who for whatever reason, like you – frequent your social feeds with their positive, supportive messages directed not just at you, but at others spending time in your communities as well. Be sure to thank and celebrate them periodically with public callouts, freebies / small gifts if possible. Not only do they deserve that appreciation, but doing so will encourage their feelings toward your brand to remain positive and the bond strong.
Additionally, even in the most painful moments in working in social media – whether it’s a crisis, or dealing with an especially tough customer on your Facebook page, etc. – there’s always something to be grateful for. Either your skills are sharpened, or you learned something new – or hey – maybe you’re just grateful the experience is over and you’re still excited about your job in spite of it.
6. Don’t forget to breathe
Anyone who’s ever done this job has felt the weight of its importance to the business we represent – after all, a company can spiral into major crisis if you tweet the wrong thing to the wrong person (as our friends at US Airways just learned). And although working in social media can be filled with joy, it can also be crushing in its stress or volume of work at times.
Yoga teaches us that it’s when we most want to hold our breath that we most need to breathe. So when things get tough – take a breath. Step away from the screen. Stretch. Walk around. And breathe!
How about you – has yoga, or any other sort of discipline in your life imparted lessons that can be applied to working in social media? Comment below and let us know.