I often think about my clients and upcoming work projects when I’m doing routine tasks around the house, like painting or cleaning. Since I don’t have to pay close attention to what I’m doing, I can allow my mind to wander.
It got me thinking about the ways in which social media allows us to celebrate progress instead of just seeing the final picture.
Even 5 or 8 years ago, a successful project would be found written up in a magazine or featured in a book. You might use one opportunity to leapfrog to the next, such as a hit TV series making way for a book deal.
But now, everywhere I look, it’s the small steps that matter. I have a few theories on why this is the case.
1. Social media allows us to interact in real time. Even those who I’ve never met personally can be followed online and share when they’re struggling through a new yoga class, trying a fresh recipe for dinner, or making a decision about a new sofa. To some people this level of detail is annoying – who cares that you ate a sandwich?! Why do you have to share that you picked out the “perfect paint color?”
The real value is in building a relationship. Whether you’re interested in someone’s healthy living journey, remodeling an old house, adventures of an adorable dog, or travels around the world, it feels special to be included in the small steps along the way.
2. Sharing the journey enables many more benchmarks. Imagine a TV show that started with a plot of land and then BOOM! There’s a new house on it. They show off all the rooms and landscape and then the show ends. That’s not interesting. Instead, TV shows in this genre talk about the decisions that need to be made, the finishes that were chosen, the problems that came up, and the solutions found. Sure, it’s compressed into 30 or 60 minutes but no one would watch if there wasn’t a journey.
In online spaces without time constraints, it’s much easier to set benchmarks and follow along. Maybe it’s your favorite blogger visiting all the countries in the world or someone making their first quilt. Being part of the journey and celebrating benchmarks together is more enjoyable.
3. Powerful stories and compelling journeys build community. Imagine seeing someone you knew 10 years ago on the news but haven’t heard from in a decade. They’ve just released a cookbook; huh, good for them. Now imagine even 3 years ago you started following a friend or stranger on Instagram who had decided to go vegan and was trying all the recipes, making fun of the horrible ones and improving them until they looked and sounded so good you had to try out a dish yourself. You saw their writing improve, their photos got better and about 6 months ago they asked for new recipe ideas before announcing a book deal.
Even if you had the same level of enthusiasm about vegan cooking, you’d be much more invested in the virtual stranger than a friend who disappeared to “hone his craft” or some other b.s. and then popped up with a book.
It’s so tempting to wait until things are done, or perfect, or big enough to share, but the very nature of social media and community is that small steps matter. In things big and small, we want to be involved in the process, and creating a community like this is so valuable.
Your challenge today is to discover 3 ways you can share part of your journey with your audience, even if you haven’t reached the finish line.