The 3 Rhythms of Social Marketing

Photo by erinsybil / CC BY 2.0


Fartlek. There, I said it. All of us in social marketing need to master fartlek. Our Swedish readers know that fartlek translates to “speed play”. The term comes from the world of training and it is one of three speed workouts that can elevate athletic performance and enhance speed for runners. The other two workouts are interval and tempo. The social marketing connection? There are also three rhythms of social marketing that every company needs to master – and they correspond pretty closely to fartlek, interval, and tempo.

Ready or not, consumers are off and running on social. Readers of this blog are familiar with the statistics, but lets recap. Nearly 2 billion photos are uploaded and shared everyday across major social networks, while thirty percent of adult Americans now get their news from their Facebook Newsfeed. The conversations relevant to your company are happening on social.  Add to that, the shift in consumer expectation around customer care and support on social.  In a recent survey, nearly half (42%) of consumer respondents who have ever attempted to contact a brand, product, or company through social media for customer support said they expect a response within 60 minutes. Every social marketer is feeling the pressure to be in all the right places with all the right content at all the right times. How? 

We’ve defined 3 rhythms of social marketing every company needs to support.  As I mentioned, I like to equate these rhythms to three major types of speed workouts that can elevate athletic performance and enhance speed.  A key difference between the average runner who runs for good health and the performance athlete who seeks to enhance endurance, agility, and speed is the incorporation of variety into the training regimen. The magic is in the mix. Similarly, marketers that want to take their digital marketing programs to the next level must operate at three simultaneous rhythms:

1.  Always-on Daily Social Engagement.

Think of this as your tempo run – the everyday jog you take at a comfortable, but swift, pace to maintain your health.  In social, this translates to your daily brand engagement with your community – whether that’s responding to customer care inquiries or proactively sharing interesting content. 

2.  Planned Social Campaigns and Events. 

This aligns to interval training – the big hills you must climb (and know are coming!) and the quick sprints followed by a steady jog.  For digital marketers, these are the major campaigns your entire team has on their calendar and plans out weeks, even months, in advance.  Think larger social initiatives around the Oscars, the Big Game, annual campaigns for holidays, or your big customer conference.

3. Unexpected, Real-Time Moments. 

This is your fartlek – the fun, unpredictable, and dynamic rhythm that can elevate your performance to new heights. In social, there are new trending topics and spontaneous conversations taking place every hour.  Capitalizing on these ‘surprise’ moments when it’s relevant to join the conversation can drive significant increases in engagement with your audience and help keep your brand top on mind in the daily lives of consumers.  

While these three different cadences of communication may come as no surprise, executing against all of them concurrently is no small feat. It takes a sophisticated and integrated digital marketing team to get it right.  Thinking through core messaging, organizational workflows, and processes, as well as tackling the challenges of aligned goals and objectives, sourcing and publishing compelling content, and determining the right technology tools to implement are just the tip of the iceberg. 

The companies that are diligent in thinking through these elements will set the pace in today's world where 'marketing at the speed of life' is the new expectation. Are you running at any other rhythms I missed? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. 

Jim Rudden's picture

Jim Rudden

Jim is responsible for worldwide brand, product and revenue marketing at Spredfast. Prior to Spredfast, Jim was VP of Global Marketing at Lombardi Software (acquired by IBM) where he was responsible for brand and product marketing, as well as demand generation. He has more than 20 years experience in technology marketing and implementation in the areas of enterprise software. He has held positions in product management, marketing, consulting, and sales at Lombardi Software, BetweenMarkets Software (acquired by Innovis), and Trilogy Software. Jim holds a B.A. in American Studies from Stanford University.