“Running” Socials. 🏃🏻♂️
By Tommy Clark
I have a bit of an obsessive personality.
When I get into a new hobby or set a new goal — I go deep.
Lately, a lot of that obsession has been funneled toward business. The agency. The newsletter.
But there’s a new rabbit hole I’ve been going down:
If you’ve been following me on Twitter or happen to follow my personal Instagram, you’ve been subjected to near-daily pictures of my runs and screenshots of my Strava results. Sorry not sorry.
It started off as “Oh I’m just going to run a mile or two 2-3x a week.”
Then it turned into “Huh. This is actually pretty fun.”
And now I’m going down YouTube rabbit holes binge-watching Nick Bare videos wanting to start a marathon prep.
In my pursuit of trying not to train like an idiot, I came across a rule that runners (or at least runners that know what they’re doing) follow when they structure their training.
80% of your training runs should be ‘easy’ — and only 20% should be pushing the pace hard.
The majority of training runs are meant to be run below your aerobic threshold, at a heart rate well below the maximum.
The thought process behind this is two-fold:
- These easy runs at a slower pace build your aerobic base — your foundation of fitness — for longer runs
- You’re gonna hurt yourself at some point if you’re pushing red line on every run like an idiot
The other 20% of your training runs push the pace.
These are usually speed intervals or lactate threshold work. That’s when you train just below the pace where you shift from relying on your aerobic system to relying on your anaerobic system (when shit starts to burn).
Ok. But why am I bringing this up?
You can (and should) actually apply this line of thinking to your social media strategy.
Let me explain.
80% of your posts should be ‘easy.’
I think a lot of social media managers end up in a position of creative fatigue and burnout because of the pressure we put on ourselves.
For some reason, the profession attracts high-functioning, Type-A perfectionists.
We obsess over every detail of a post — the spacing, the punctuation, the timing — in hopes that it’ll get picked up by the algorithm of whatever platform we’re publishing to.
It’s well-intentioned. Just like the rookie runner is well-intentioned when he damn near sprints his first few training runs (it’s me, I’m the rookie runner).
Here’s the problem.
Creativity isn’t linear.
Some days you’re on fire. Coming up with banger after banger after banger.
Some days you can’t put a sentence together.
Too many social media managers create a content strategy that assumes they will be 100% creative 100% of the time.
They behave like an ego-driven runner who wants to PR their time on every run they complete.
It’s impossible. Just like sprinting every training run in your marathon prep is impossible.
Well. I don’t know if there’s a true ‘fix.’ I think we as marketers will always be walking that fine line between creativity and creative block.
But I do like the idea of adopting this principle from the sport of running:
80% of your posts should be ‘easy.’
The majority of your content should be pieces and angles that you know will perform well. You’re also publishing these at a cadence that you know you can sustain. You don’t need to get too fancy or creative here.
When I was at Triple Whale, I had a bank of previous content that performed well that I could easily repurpose or iterate on any time I needed to (like Hasbulla memes).
I also knew what meme angles our audience resonated with, and what types of engagement questions they would respond to.
These easy pieces ‘build your base’ of account growth, engagement, etc.
You can pump these out at a daily cadence to keep your brand top of mind without feeling super drained.
These posts build your ‘content engine’ — like your easy training runs build your aerobic engine.
The other 20% of your posts should be truly creatively draining.
These are the big swings. These are the campaigns or content pieces that you want to truly ‘pop off.’ The pieces that you put that last 5% of effort into.
This content could be:
- A product launch
- A new content series
- An influencer campaign
- A random post or content idea that you just decide to funnel all of your creative energy into that week
This type of content takes a creative sprint to pull off. They make you push the pace.
And yeah. It’s fun as hell. And you need to be taking risks and going ‘all in’ creatively when building out a truly compelling social media strategy.
But it’s not sustainable to do this 24/7.
You’re going to have days when you’re creatively burnt. And putting pressure on yourself to have to perform every single day is a fast-track to burnout.
My point here:
A well-structured social media strategy is so similar to a well-structured marathon prep — or a well-structured training program in any sport, for that matter.
Just like an athlete manages their physical readiness, you must manage your creative readiness.
Your training plan ✍️
The idea is great. But how do you actually implement it in your day-to-day?
Here’s a checklist:
1) Set your posting cadence to something you know you can sustain.
I think daily posting is fine (and probably ideal) for brands with a proper social media manager.
But don’t go crazy and tell yourself you’re going to post 3x per day across 4 different platforms.
1-2 platforms. 1-2x per day.
You can be flexible with this, but just don’t overdo it.
2) Within that cadence, make the majority of your content ‘foundational.’
In other words, this should be the type of content that you can say with confidence will perform at least ‘decently well.’
This doesn’t mean you’re going through the motions. It just means you’re being smart about where to deploy your creative energy.
Pro tip here: as you get more experience on a specific account, you’ll have more and more of these posts to fall back on. Keep a library of your best-performing post formats and angles.
3) Reserve 1-2 ‘big swings’ per week.
This is a more individual preference. But I find that pushing myself creatively for 1-2 pieces of content per week from a brand account is enough to see noticeable results without burning myself out.
Stop being an idiot and trying to sprint a marathon.
And yes. This entire piece is also a reminder to myself.
Hope it was helpful. That’s all I’ve got today.