When I baked banana bread the other day, I wandered to the oven approximately every minute to monitor its progress. Every time, I heard the trademark reply of my friend and former roommate, Katie: “Taylor, if you open the oven that often, it’ll never bake. Be patient!” Me, patient? Ha. Good one.
That tale of baking impatience recently became relevant beyond the kitchen, when I began managing the Science Center of Iowa’s Pinterest and Instagram accounts. As I Instagrammed photos of a 60-year-old box turtle, Peaches (in celebration of World Turtle Day), and pinned the instructions for at least 15 variations of the classic volcano experiment, I realized a peculiar juxtaposition in the realm of social media.
Though social media revolves around the modern need for immediacy, it requires patience from those on the management end.
I’ve learned you can plan and plan a complete social media approach, but if users don’t engage with your content, you have to be ready to take a whole new route. And the inherent uncertainty has provided a powerful test in patience. That ‘brilliant’ idea for a Pinterest board? Total flop. That ‘eh, maybe’ board I created with caution and expected to garner limited engagement? An immediate hit.
Flexibility is the pinnacle of successful social media management. Not clever hashtags. Not eye-catching photos. Not a homely turtle. Not even that blackmail-worthy Throwback Thursday image.
And hey, one day in the near future, I might even wait until the timer dings to check on my banana bread. And I have an aging box turtle to thank for it.