Musician John Mayer announced last week he's having a 'digital cleanse'; going cold turkey on social media for a week. This is notable as Mayer is one of the most rabid tweeters in Hollywood. He even got dumped by Jennifer Aniston for it. (Now that's a habit!)

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So will your own social media program face a similar burnout down the road?

This is important as marketers face challenges in 2010 like:

  • How do I get people in my company to adopt social media?
  • How do I prove to management it's worth the time?
  • How do I integrate it with other marketing programs?

The answer is to make sure your social media is on a mission. It's important to establish this at the planning stage for two reasons:

One, like any other relationship, customer relationships built through Social Media take time.

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And in the business world, time is money.

Second, passion is contagious. And the key performance indicator of any social media program is how wide it spreads.

So here's 3 simple questions to ask when trying to develop a social media program that doesn't burnout:

1. What is it that your company is really passionate about?

    You should be able to find this in your company's mission statement. Mission No, not that mission. I'm talking about that thing that truly drives your company. The thing people are obsessed about. That they would talk about all day if you let them. Google's is to organize all the world's information. Wal-Mart's is to deliver every day low prices. Here, at Search Engine People it's to help businesses get found online. What's the obsession your company has?

2. Who in your company is really passionate about it?

Here's the shocker. It may not be you. 858531_45466427

The better you can find the passionate voices in your company the more you'll position your company as a credible authority, the more effective it will be and therefore the more sustainable it will be. Caution: they may be social media wallflowers you have to drag kicking and screaming online. Rick Short built a small army of bloggers for Indium tapping into the experts inside the company that were already creating white papers. Dell has a platoon of over 100 subject matter experts with Twitter accounts. And we're working with a major food marketer that will bring their farmers from the field and onto Facebook. These marketers are building a competitive advantage by creating a strong team of social listeners and sharers.

3. Is there a natural audience of people who are also passionate about this topic?

You better make sure that what the community is interested in matches the content you create.

Social Bounce

Otherwise, like a website that doesn't match the searcher's intent, your content will 'bounce' and and not get clicked on and shared. If you're not a major retail brand it will be more difficult to find those communities but take heart as the revolutionary part of Social Media is how it is allowing niche businesses extend their reach. Louis E. Page put their 116 year old passion for fencing online and increased sales leads by 850%. And the average b2b marketer has 200 Facebook fans; only 100 less than the average b2c company. There are literally dozens of social media tools that can help you find your community from more elaborate ones like Radian6 to do-it-yourself tools like WeFollow.

Final Note: While you're spending time on missions and passion, don't forget to lay one down for your own Social Media program. It should be tied to your company's business goals and measurable on the basis of ROI in a 'we're-going-to-take-that-hill-achieve-X-by-Y' sort of way. That way management knows that those passionate people you found are spending time on something that moves the needle.

In short, unlike Mr. Mayer, don't make your tweets just about your life. Make them about your passion.

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That way your Social Media program won't end up like a New Year's resolution in June.

Photo credit for shock image to ramzi hashisho