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No Real Social Media Plan? Try Starting With This.

Maximizing Your Social Presence in Communities Across the Web

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Coming up with a social media plan isn’t always the easiest thing to do for businesses. There are so many factors that come into play, even beyond the landscape of communities that actually exist. For example, business leaders need to ask questions like: How much time should be spent interacting with social media sites? How many people should be representing the company on social sites? How much of their time should be dedicated to it? Should it be the full-time job of one person? The full-time jobs of more people? Only part of the job for a lot of people? Etc. Etc. Etc. 

No matter how much time and how many resources are spent on your brand’s social media presence, more can always be done, so many will have to find they have to be selective in areas of participation and time spent. If your budget and time aren’t as restricted, you can build an enormous social presence around the web in the places that matter. Just remember, more can always be done. We at WebProNews certainly have plenty of room to expand and improve our own social strategy, and chances are you do too. 

So, with all of that in mind, here are some ideas you can use to build your social presence. 

Twitter

1. Post regular Twitter updates everyday. That doesn’t mean spam or post them constantly all day long, but there should be enough regularity to where your followers know you’re there and don’t forget about you. That said, don’t talk just to talk. Have something valuable to say. If you produce content, share your links. Some may not think it’s a good idea just to pump out your own links on Twitter, because it’s "about the conversation", but the way I look at is this: if someone is following me, they’re probably interested in what I have to say. If I’m writing articles, those are in essence, what I have to say. That doesn’t mean that it’s not about the conversation. 

2. You should engage in conversation on Twitter. Start conversations that don’t necessarily pertain to your own links. Listen to what others are saying, and join conversations with them, regardless of if they are directly related to your brand or not. 

3. Monitor your brand. Respond to @mentions (good or bad). Respond to direct messages. 

4. Post pictures and videos using services like TwitPic, TwitVid, Yfrog, etc. These things can help humanize your brand and increase engagement with others. They can be conversation starters. People like visuals. 

5. Create relevant lists. Create lists of other Twitterers that can provide value to others. You don’t necessarily have to, but it might be a good idea to create a variety of lists for subjects related to your niche. If you have a car blog, for example, you might have a list of car brands, a list of other car bloggers, a list for mechanics, a list of auto part vendors, etc. 

WebProNews on Twitter

Facebook

1. Have a Facebook Page for your brand. If you’re running a business, you need a Page, not just a personal profile. What you do with your personal profile is up to you, but your page should be up, and it should be promoted. 

2. Post regular updates throughout the day. Just like Twitter, I see nothing wrong with sharing links to your content here if you write articles or blog posts. I should note that this should be actual helpful content though – not just posts about why people should buy your product. Nobody wants to be a fan of a page that does that. 

3. Respond to comments on your Page. Get involved in conversations. 

4. Update your photos and videos. You don’t have to use third-party services for this on Facebook. 

5. Experiment with landing pages for your Facebook Page. It doesn’t have to go right to your wall. You can direct fans to any information you want to provide. 

6. You can use "notes" to put blog-style content right in Facebook should you choose to do so. 

7. There is a virtually unlimited number of Facebook apps. Look for ones that might be able to add value to your page and get people engaged in a helpful way. This will also take some experimenting. 

WebProNews on Facebook

YouTube (and other video sites)

1. If you create videos, you need to have them on YouTube and other video sites/networks. This is key for getting your videos out to a wider audience. 

2. These sites are also communities. Respond to comments and subscribe to others. Make friends in the communities. 

3. Push subscriptions to your channels. Keeping people subscribed means keeping them engaged as you continue to produce content. This can help build a following. 

4. Even if you don’t create your own videos, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get involved in conversations and comment on others’ videos. 

5. You can create "favorites" lists of videos that can be helpful, even if they’re not your videos (similar to the Twitter lists).

WebProNews on YouTube

MySpace

1. MySpace may not be the current flavor of the week, but make no mistake – it’s still got a lot of users. Makes friends on MySpace with like-minded individuals and businesses, and expand your network here. 

2. Like anything else, keep up with your comments and direct messages, and engage in conversation on and off your own page. 

3. Have a professional-looking design for your page. 

4. Highlight your best content. 

5. Update your page regularly with new status updates, blog entries, videos, etc. 

Google Buzz

1. Update Buzz regularly throughout the day with links and general conversation. Basically, treat it similar to Facebook or Twitter. 

2. Engage in conversation on and off your own Buzz posts. 

3. Spend some time making your Google Profile (which is connected to Buzz…and appears in Google search results) the best it can be. Provide links to your other profiles. 

4. Integrate other options that are available and applicable to you (Google Reader sharing, Picasa photos, Orkut, etc.)

5. You can apply these to other networks like LinkedIn and FriendFeed as well. 

Digg, Reddit, Delicious, StumbleUpon, etc. 

1. Share links to others’ content on social bookmarking sites like these regularly. This will help you build a following. 

2. Have buttons to make your own content easy to share on these sites. 

3. Engage in conversations in the comments of links you share and links others share on these sites. 

4. Become friends with others like-minded and interesting people on these networks. 

Forums

1. Find relevant topics in forums that are also relevant to your business and get involved in existing conversations. 

2. Start your own relevant conversations. Don’t just get in there and link to your content. It’s tacky and people will see through it. You can often provide your link in your profile anyway. 

3. If you have built up enough credibility in a forum, you might be able to share a link of your own from time to time in a legitimate fashion, like for example, if you wrote an article on the topic being discussed that helps to answer a question that is being asked. 

4. The more actively you engage in useful conversation, the more credibility you will gain, and you can come to be looked upon as an expert in your field. 

Blogs

1. If you have a blog, keep up with the comments. Respond and stay involved in the conversations. If people disagree with you, which they often will, don’t make a big deal about it or try to prove them wrong. You might just be driving them away. Keep it constructive. Respectfully disagree and maybe elaborate on why you stand by your position, or if they change your mind, maybe tell them you hadn’t looked at things that way. 

2. Take the time to participate in conversation on other relevant blogs. You can basically think of blog comments as mini forums. The same rules pretty much apply. 

Photos

1. As I said, people like visuals, especially current users of sites like Flickr and Picasa. Update photo sites regularly. Again, this can help humanize your brand and even open you up to different audiences. 

2. Participate in conversations in comments on and off of your own photos. 

3. Promote your presence on these sites. On your own site/blog, maybe have some links pointing to these accounts.

The Right Person/People for the Job

1. You want to make sure you have the right person or people representing your brand in all of these communities. You don’t want someone that doesn’t really understand your company’s vision or position  to be out there giving people the wrong impression. 

2. Whoever is representing your brand should have a grasp on current news and strategies related to what your business provides. In other words, they should be knowledgeable. It wouldn’t hurt for the people involved to have a designated amount of time each day just reading news. 

Finally, just keep everything up to date and current. Don’t let profiles go sour. Don’t let comments, questions, and messages sit there to rot. You’ve got to keep up with it all. So, with that in mind, don’t bite off more than you can chew in social media. Look at how much of this you actually want to do, and plan time and resources accordingly. 

This is by no means all that can be done. There are plenty of other communities I didn’t mention, and probably a great deal more strategies that I didn’t touch upon. I think the things mentioned in this article should be a good start though. 

What did I leave out that you would add? Please do so in the comments

No Real Social Media Plan? Try Starting With This.
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  • http://www.searchminds.se rykteshantering

    I work with social medias and i agree whit u . this is the first and most impotant step.

  • http://www.pushbikewear.com steve

    Facebook confuses me.
    What do you mean by a Facebook page? And how does one go about getting one?
    I have set up a profile for my business. But reading the above, it seems I might be missing something.
    Steve

    • http://www.bookbrowzers.com BookBrowzers

      Hi Steve! This is a post I put up in a forum that I frequent about 7 months ago, when I was sharing Chris’s article mentioned below. Facebook pages are incredibly easy to create. Please note that they were formerly known as “Fan” pages but Facebook has replaced the “Become a Fan” button with the “Like” button (so if I refer to “fan” you’ll know what I mean – I’ve tried to change my text where appropriate!).

      Google Makes Facebook Pages a Higher Priority for Businesses

      Google announced via Twitter this week, that public status updates from Facebook are now included in the search engine

    • http://www.millermosaicllc.com/blog PhyllisZimblerMiller

      Steve –

      If your Facebook personal profile page is in your business’ name instead of your name, you are in violation of Facebook’s terms and your page could be disappeared.

      Read this blog post of mine to learn more — http://www.millermosaicllc.com/facebook/facebook-terms/

      Phyllis Zimbler Miller
      http://twitter.com/ZimblerMiller

  • Guest

    If I spent my day doing all this social media stuff you recommend I’d never get any work done that I actually get paid for. Social media is over-hyped…a recent survey found that 71% of Tweets go unread.

    • http://ultimatelistbuildingtips.com Nina Nestoroff

      I think that number regarding unread Tweets is probably correct. The reason? Because the majority of people using Twitter are only Spamming people with links to their opportunities. Very few people are actually providing anything worth reading. Going back to the original content of this post, unless you provide value, no one is interested in what you have to say, whether tweeting, posting on facebook, or even in person.

  • http://www.jacksonlaws.com/ Joseph P. McClelland

    I understand what you are saying about the social media, but what about store fronts. Getting fans from other states isn’t going to help as much. Or do I have it completely backward like I should try to get some percentage of everyone using facebook in GA so that when they need me I can be right there?
    Is that even plausible or absolutely doable because from a link standpoint I never see any help from my twitter usage, although it is few and far in between. Just some thoughts.

    • http://www.bookbrowzers.com BookBrowzers

      I follow many of my local businesses on their Facebook pages…I’m always pleased when I see a “Find Us on Facebook” poster in their stores! They update with event announcements, sales, “Fan Only” discounts…it’s great! One of them is my small-town feed store…when they have a special on chicken feed, I’m there! Encourage your customers to visit your page by letting them know that it’s there…hang a poster, print a message on receipts, hand them a coupon with their purchase, etc.

      Twitter & Page updates should be a regular part of your day if you’re going to really gain a following and see results from it. Never underestimate the power of social media :)

    • http://www.DeborahLSmith.com Deborah Smith

      Hi Joseph, Use the many tools available to you to locate local Twitter users. Twellow is a great tool. Also look for lists on Twitter. I have a New Jersey list for the businesses I come across in New Jersey. You can even search by town name with real time Tweets that mention the town you are located in. Send those people who mention your town a quick tweet or follow them. On LinkedIn use it like you would a Chamber of Commerce. Join local business groups and get to know the people in the groups. It’s just a big networking tool and can be used for brick and mortar store owners as well as Executives. On Facebook, create a page for your business. In your store promote your Facebook page with a banner or on your receipts. If I knew what your business was I’d give you more ideas. If it makes sense for your business, offer some kind of incentive for people to “Like” your page on Facebook. Special offers just for FB users. Some local businesses are doing amazing things with Social Media. I hope I’ve given you some ideas.

  • http://www.bookbrowzers.com BookBrowzers

    Excellent article, Chris!! MySpace is something I’ve overlooked…I was under the impression that MySpace had become basically a musician site…never really thought of using it for my business. Thanks for all the great ideas!

  • http://www.maps4pets.com/accommodation.asp maps4pets

    I need to brush up on a few areas after reading your article. Thanks.

    We are very lucky because the pet community is very competative and have generally embraced Social Media if Twitter is anything to go by. It’s interesting to see that a lot of the big brand names have been a bit slow to pick up on it at first where as individuals and small operators have taken it by storm. It is working out very well in general for this niche market.

  • http://www.DeborahLSmith.com Deborah Smith

    Hi Chris, I think it is extremely important and helpful for businesses to understand that not all social media tools are right for all businesses. Knowing your target market and where they hang out online, is a huge time saver. I also advise all of my clients to take a step back and map out their Business Objectives/Goals first. These do not include social media. Social media is the tool/tactics you use to achieve the goal. Having a good understanding of the tools is imperative to mapping out your strategy. This is where someone who has a deep understanding of the many tools available can be invaluable. We also assess the time and staffing they have to dedicate to Social Media. If this resource is very limited, we opt for Social Media tactics that require less time then Twitter for example. Some of my clients are strictly on LinkedIn because of compliance issues with their employers. Every business is different.

    • http://www.blog.daviddho.com David Ho

      Hi Deborah,

      Just wanted to leave a comment in support of your comment :-D. Believe you me I’m well aware of the difficulty of trying to explain to small business owners how to properly use social media FOR THEIR PARTICULAR BUSINESS, as opposed to whatever poorly informed idea they have based on limited research, though… I also understand their side! As a small biz owner most of the time your time is limited and you have to make a decision now – even if it’s not the best one. I suppose the trick for people like me is to ensure I’m getting paid for the consulting I’m doing!!

  • http://www.prosportsfansunion.com Tim Claiborne

    Great article Chris…social media gets very overwhelming, and seems like so much to keep track of when you are just getting started! Will help me to make a chart with your info and take regular action on each of these areas.

  • http://www.kwatadeal.com Chris

    Facebook is the only one I use here in Uganda. And it is yet to produce results. According to a recent internet survey, this is the most visited site in Uganda. And, most people are not aware of other social networking sites.

  • http://africatopforum.com Africa

    This is really interesting article, just for refreshing.

  • http://www.buzzfeed.com/wecanchangetheworld wecanchangetheworld

    If you write, find or create potentially viral content, I highly recommend joining (perhaps even partnering with) Buzzfeed. Not only is it a great way to give your own content a boost, but it’s also a great way to find new and interesting content shared by others. With the addition to everything else mentioned in this article, it can help your content spread even further and more rapidly.

  • Guest

    This is, hands-down the BEST introductory article I have ever seen about Social Marketing – This is DEAD-On what I have been trying to tell my clients – and how to explain it to them.

    I’m going to spread the word about this great introductory article. With your permission, I’d like to post it (Attached Link) to my FB page and send my clients to it.

    BRAVO ! Do you have a blog? or a way to find future articles you will write?

    Jack Waterman – jack@jwwebs.com

  • http://ultimatelistbuildingtips.com Nina Nestoroff

    Hello Chris,

    Great information, very timely. It is hard to keep up with all the social media sites available, so having a plan, a daily method of operation, becomes more and more important. The key to success with business and social media is to remember the “social” part of the equation. People do business with people they know, like and trust. Social media sites gives us business owners a platform for connecting and humanizing our businesses. We all need to focus on being social, providing a reason for people to connect with us, and then being able to share our business information.

    Nina Nestoroff
    http://mytwitter.profitablemarketingsystem.com

  • ARGH!

    Thanks for reminding me why I don’t have/keep a presence in social media – it’s A LOT OF WORK !!!

    It’s definitively NOT for someone who is already busy enough in their field, be they independent professionals or successful small business owners.

    But it may be a valuable tool for those with lots of time in their hands (and not enough money), or vice-versa, i.e. those with slow businesses or larger companies that can hire it out.

    Me, I’d rather spend my free time with my family or doing things I enjoy.

  • http://www.temeron.com/ Mihai Cosma

    Where is the line between promoting to much your own products and bussines, and getting involved in the community and offering valuable info? I think it’s a point many people/businesses cross, and that changes the way many people react to this king of content…

  • http://www.fleetmatics.com MikeR

    Obviously you know what you’re talking about in all these areas. However, (and don’t take this the wrong way) when you work at a small company whose primary product isn’t web-related content targeted at knowledge workers, things are a bit more difficult. Our marketing team is small and we target small business owners who spend little time in front of computers. Also, I can’t imagine a scenario in which we will ever hire a dedicated Social Media position. In the meantime we split the work and try hard to produce content so we can keep our blog semi-regular, we curate content (not just our own) to post on Twitter and Facebook. And we try to follow forums, LinkedIn groups, industry news, etc. But we have a lot of other marketing activities to attend to and we’re more likely to scale back our social efforts than expand them. There just hasn’t been any return on all the activity despite our best efforts.

    • http://www.blog.daviddho.com David Ho

      Hey Mike,

      Just wanted to add my 2 cents to what you were talking about. I’m involved in a small networking operation based in southern China that faces similar challenges. Our network is composed of and seeks to add successful business people (usually 40+) in the Pearl River Delta area. I, a firm believer in social media, initially thought it would be worthwhile to have a social media presence to interact with our network. However, spending some time to revisit the position of my clients – I realize that our time would be better spend advertising on mediums our target actually consumes and uses! Successful business people in my area DO NOT USE the internet much, and rarely check e-mail, the vast majority of them have never heard of social media and can’t be bothered to try it.

      The position I came to adopt is a more client-centric one – even when it spites my passion for social media! Time spent trying to develop a conversation, maintain relationships, and generate leads online with clients that never come online is obviously dumb. A much better option, in my case, would be to target sms marketing as there isn’t a Chinese person in the area that doesn’t have a cell phone tethered to their palm :). As a smart marketer, online or offline, I think our job is really to keep our attention focused on understanding our market and finding them in the places they want to or already go and communicating with them the way that best fits who they are and our businesses objectives.

      Social Media is just one of many tools we have! I try my best to use it accordingly despite my love for it!! :)

      • Chad O

        Mike and David, I think you both bring up great points, and I can completely understand that if your client base is not using these networks, it doesn’t make much sense to spend a lot of time on it.
        BUT, I would also have to think that even in your situations, at any given point those clients MIGHT start getting involved in facebook or Twitter, or whatever. So I would think it would be a wise idea to at least have those tools in place, so whenever (or even IF ever) they do find those tools you will be there to be found. And who knows who else you may come across just be being accessible.
        In our area, age isn’t as much of a factor as gender when it comes to social media. Fortunately for our business, which is somewhat geared toward promoting to women, it works in our favor! There are places online that I have created accounts for just for the simple fact that I want to be there “just in case.” I don’t spend a lot of time with them, but I sure would if my potential client base started showing that they were interested in it.
        Good luck to both of you!
        David, I have always been curious about internet use in China. Not knowing much about the culture, I didn’t know if the people are online much, or if it is kind of not allowed, or what the situation was. You definitely would have a very different perspective there than I do in middle America!! Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.mymoneymakingsecretsite.com Elizabeth

    Most of the stuff that you mention I do have in place. Using it regularly and properly however is another story. Thanks for a very clear and timely reminder to get me back on track.

  • http://www.siskiyouwebdesign.com Siskiyou Web Design

    Stay in touch with your customers or clients using Social Media, but balanced, don’t try to use everything here as a small business owner, there is only so much time in the day, unless you hire someone to take care of it which will take some of the personal touch away.

  • http://rs-catalog.com/ RapidShare

    I work with social medias, content and advertising.
    I have been many years in the software world, and I can 100% tell – social media works great !

  • http://www.blog.daviddho.com David Ho

    Just wanted to say thanks for putting this together – the title of this article reads like the heading on a train of thought I’m constantly interrupted from entertaining! I’m the head of small operation based on Southern China providing website service and online marketing (very little right now!) Social Media is kind of my passion but I’ve been forced to focus on making sites as that’s where the market dictates I should focus currently! I consumed this vigorously and will definitely find a legitimate and relevant excuse to link to this article on my sites and those I work closely with! Keep the good stuff coming!!

  • http://www.octane-cetane.com/ Anton OCE

    It needs more effort and time. But i agree with that, it could raise your brand/product’s popularity.

  • http://www.pandltranslations.com Janine Libbey

    LinkedIn is also a good place to publish new content, particularly for B2B companies.

  • http://www.onfx.com Rudy Espinosa

    I am the webmaster for 2 local Chamber of Commerce organizations. Just this morning I sent an email to one of my contacts that I would like to provide a presentation on “Social Media for the Impatient!”

    Then I read this article. You have confirmed my list of social media sites that every small business should use. Thanks!

  • http://www.worldtravelingartist.com/about Alexander

    Couldn’t agree more! Facebook is my favorite at the moment.

  • Guest

    I say good job. I am a freelancer and primarily do the social networking for small businesses and book authors and you have supplied a perfect list of things that will get people to reach their goals with their company, project, etc.

    For the people that feel they do not have the time, that is understandable. Your main focus is your buiness. That is where a person like me and so many others take over. As you can tell, since I am reading this article, I also keep up with the latest and the greatest new tools. I make it my place to stay on top. The one thing that I do is have my client try to keep somewhat involved so whatever I am doing just does not look like a person hired to sell a product. It is amazing the little amount of time you wil spend on it. Use one person or company to help, do not get one group to network and another group to blog because neither side will keep each other informed of their doings.

    People the tools are out there and most are free, it you have the time, start slow and you will see growth. If you do not have time look around for soemone to help you out and do not assume that the group that charges the most is the best group.

    If I can be assitance please feel free to contact me at mschw64276@gmail.com and I will help anyway I can..

    Good Luck to you all and again great article!!

  • http://www.tampamastercarpetcleaners.com Guest

    Im new to the seo thang, and the advice i get from this site had great content.

  • http://www.liveonlinechat.net Simon Ward

    We built a chat room almost 5 years ago and have seen it grow into a social network with many people from all around the world using it every hour of every day. The basis is simple, no registration required to chat with other people from different walks of life from all over the world. Everything is based around the 2 chat rooms, Chat One being webcam and audio, Chat Two being plain text chat for a more retro experience. Recently, we have added a full blown social network that has many of the features of Facebook but without too much clutter. We have added limitations to the webcam chat rooms that are lifted when you register at the community part of the site. The community social network part of Live Online Chat is growing quite steadily. You can view this here http://www.liveonlinechat.net/community/

    I agree with most of this article and will say one thing, link building is of the most important thing to do to not only get your website to the top but also to bring in traffic. The hardest thing to do is to get a place busy. People will visit a site and if it is empty, they leave. Never expect instant success, we started with a small group of chatters and almost 5 years later, we have 30 admins and thousands of people coming in each day. When you build links, it is vital that you use the correct link signatures to match your site content.

    Visit Live Online Chat here http://www.liveonlinechat.net

    Thank you.

  • Hubert

    I’m with steve..what do you mean by a facebook page??

  • http://www.susannepenfoldsocialmediaconsultant.co.uk Susanne Penfold

    Thanks for this interesting article.
    So many clients have a look of terror on their faces when you mention facebook. You must have a personal profile page to set up a business Fan page. If you set up a profile page for your business you will have problems. Personal pages only allow 5000 friends fan pages unlimited.
    To get a face a facebook fan page login to your personal profile and go down to the bottom of the page and you will see advertising button, don’t be put off by this creating a page is free. You will then see a menu that says create a fan page.
    You will have a couple of options so just make sure you pick the right one. The next steps are very important, try and use your keyword in your page title and once you have 25 followers you can shorten your url just to have your name and not all those funny numbers. In the info box list your keywords it will help you to be found by spiders. I hope this helps.

  • Chad O

    We use facebook for our small business because it is the perfect compliment to what we do and almost all of our potential clients are there. It is free, we are there anyway for personal use, and if you use it right it can be a huge boost to a small business. Agreed that it isn’t for every business’s situation depending on where you are and who your potential client base is. People are always talking on here about Twitter, but twitter is pretty much useless to us since nobody around here uses it.
    But anyway…to my question!
    The article mentions some tools and apps that you can use on facebook, and I was just wondering if the author had a list or article anywhere that delves into that subject a little more. I have tried a couple different apps for our page, but I can’t ever seem to find what I am looking for.
    Does anyone know if there is any kind of scheduling app that works? I have read an article somewhere that mentioned a facebook app that would allow clients to schedule an appointment right on facebook, but I have had no success in finding it. If anyone else has come across anything like this, please post a comment with more info!!
    Thanks!!

  • http://www.wsob.com SandeeP202

    Do you think you can beat me in sports betting? It

  • http://www.badrumsrenoveringstockholm.n.nu August

    I totaly agree aswell.

  • http://www.badrumsrenoveringstockholm.n.nu Badrumsrenovering Stockholm

    You are right Nina. Twitter has thiS problem and it is realy a shame because the idea behind it is realy good.

  • http://www.arkitektofferter.se Arkitekt

    Very nice article Chris. Social medias is more komplex than many thinks and its important to write about it. Good work!

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      Thank you.

  • http://www.kursy-angielski-warszawa.com.pl/znajomosc-jezyka-angielskiego-konieczna-do-nauki-i-pracy Angielski warszawa

    You can certainly see your enthusiasm in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.

  • http://freewpinstaller.com/ Luciana Montelle

    Useful write-up, acceptance with regard to demography your the proper time to designate it jointly.

  • http://www.crowtracker.com/blog/ Jonathan

    Great post. I think the most important lesson here is to just stay active. Nothing is done overnight and it takes persistence. You have to build over time and not expect to move mountains in no time.