7 Social Media Lessons that You Can Learn From Golf

Photo cred: Lu
Photo cred: Lu

I’ve recently started playing golf.  Now, I’m pretty terrible, but I can’t help but look forward to heading out every weekend to play.  Of course, being the professional loser that I am, I am always thinking about social media.  My father (NOT Jon) jokingly suggested that I write a post comparing social media to golf, and I said…ok.

Golf Terms. If you don’t understand something.

Here are some lessons that golf can teach you about business and social media:

1. A hole in one is HIGHLY unlikely, especially when first starting out. No one gets a hole in one when they’re starting out, and even the more experienced golfers consider themselves lucky to get one.

Social Media: For those that jump into the social media space, and get frustrated when you can’t seem to build a huge community around your brand…relax.  It takes time, and most things won’t “click” the way you think it will.

2. The driving range will only teach you so much. Practice makes perfect and the range is a great way to work on your swing. The golf course, however is a completely different game.  It might be intimidating, but you have to get out there if you’re really going to learn the game.

Social Media: Get your hands dirty! You can read blogs and watch from your seat all you want.  True, it will teach you a lot, but if you actually want to learn the ins and outs of the space, you HAVE to get out there and just do it!   You can’t be afraid to jump in, which leads to the next point…

3. Sometimes Often, you will shank the ball. You might even whiff completely! You’ll spend some time in the rough, looking for your ball.  Some people might even scoff and laugh at you. But guess what?  They all learned the same way you did.

Social Media: Be ready to make mistakes.  If you plan on doing everything right, you might as well quit now.  The key is what you learn from those mistakes, and how you move forward afterward.

4. A tree might block the way. It may be best to shoot sideways, or even backwards, to get the ball back on the fairway rather than shoot through the trees for the green.

Social Media: Remember to occasionally stop and look at what you’re doing.  Is it working?  Do you need to pivot, or even take a couple steps backwards in order to reach that final goal?  It’s okay if you tried something that didn’t work.  It’s not okay if you don’t realize that it’s not working.

5. You have to look good to play good. This is my friend Jon’s line, when I asked him if having golf shoes actually help at all. Pretty self explanatory.

Social Media: Compare this to having a strong personal brand.  In both cases, it’s not true that it will necessarily make you better at what you do, but it certainly makes you look like you know what you’re doing.

6. A teacher makes things a lot easier. Golf is a TOUGH sport.  There are a lot of things to remember and the littlest pointers can really help you improve your swing.

Social media: Get a mentor.

7. The tough part is stringing good shots together. Want to know what’s frustrating? Driving a ball 250 yards down the center of the fairway, and taking 6 more swings to finish the hole.

Social media: You may have built up a lot of buzz about your video, or wrote a killer blog post.  Unless you’re able to leverage those numbers and tie it to the end goal (money), it doesn’t matter how well you started off.

Alright I’ll stop. Great now I want to play golf again…

24 thoughts on “7 Social Media Lessons that You Can Learn From Golf

  1. So, I stink at golf, and even I can see the comparisons of how it’s like social media. 🙂

    I like how they all tie in together, and show a broad scope of different things you can use SM for.

    4. A tree might block the way.

    This is the case in any situation, business or otherwise. If it hurts to hit your head with a hammer, stop. Try something new.

  2. I absolutely love this. I actually thought about this comparison this summer golfing.

    Here’s another:

    8. Different shots call for different clubs. In golf, you use a driver off the tee, but would you hit it from 25 yards? You could, but it may be better to use a pitching wedge or sand wedge depending on whether you need to hit over a bunker or if it’s an uphill or downhill shot.

    A similar thing goes for social media. Not every social media client or situation calls for the same tactics or practices. It depends on your social media goals, just like the club you hit depends on where the hole is!

  3. A quote from Tin Cup, one of the greatest golf movies ever:
    Roy McAvoy: “Greatness courts failure Romeo.”
    Romeo: “You might be right Pods, but sometimes par is good enough to win.”

    In golf, you’re often faced with situations that offer you to take a big risk for a big reward, but part of the beauty of the game is evaluating those situations and deciding which is the best course of action for your overall score/situation. In the movie, McAvoy tries to make a miracle shot while in contention for the US Open, reaching a Par 5 in two just to prove that he can, even after failing. In the end, he holes out the miracle shot for a 12. (this is the movies after all) Normal, every-day golfers would probably lay-up, pitch close, and guarantee a five or six, preserving their good overall score. Taking the risk means possibly putting up a monster number that ruins your day and your overall results.

    In social media, this can also be the case. Would you advise your clients to do an outlandish and potentially damaging campaign, on the slim chance that it might pay big dividends? Probably not. Especially in a medium where you have to evaluate risks, reactions, and possible blowback from campaigns you run and things you say, you can’t afford to “go for it” and risk everything that you have built to this point. Sure sometimes risks are warranted, and can pay off, but they have to be calculated. Most of the time, being conservative will pay off more than big risks. Just like in golf, you have to evaluate every situation and make the best decision for the overall score, not just to impress people and get an ego boost.

    1. Well said. I like the point about calculated risk. Risks, by definition, cannot be completely calculated but you should have a good understanding of the possible consequences, compared to the possible benefits, and decide if it’s worth it.

      In business, if you shoot for par, you may lose to the ones to take risks and succeed, but you’ll also beat the ones that took the risk and failed. Have to know what’s the right approach for you.

  4. Yes, all of life’s questions can be answered through golf analogies because, like life, the game has so many variables that its impossible to account for them all.

    It is all due to the fact that of all the great struggles in life: Becoming successful, raising a child, overcoming a crack addiction, etc… Nothing is more trying than hitting a 300 yard drive into a fairway bunker and nothing is more humbling than hitting a par 5 green in two and four putting your way to a bogey.

    Golf is masochistic on a level that rivals Venus in Furs and yet somehow the sadistic pains of 95 shanked shots in a row can be overshadowed by the feeling that you get when you knock a ball in the hole from off the green. A feeling which, I have to imagine, is very similar to what Dante felt when he met God in the Empyrean.

    I suppose what I am saying is that it is an exercise in patience and perseverance. No matter how many times things don’t go your way, you have to remember that every bad shot brings you closer to a great one. I admittedly know very little about social media, however this lesson transcends to all walks of life.

    So next time you are stressed out because you are having trouble getting people to read your blog, or whatever you are trying to do, remember it could be worse. You could be standing over a white 1.6 oz ball wondering how you managed to miss it completely and have to laugh and make a joke about it, even though on the inside you know the only reason you don’t rip your heart out of your own chest and take a swing at that instead is because you’d probably just shank it anyway.

  5. The way you act on the golf course is the way you may act off of it. If you throw clubs, and can’t take the fact that you got an 8 and thus you lie-is that how you are going to be off of it when faced with adversity and stumbling blocks?

    Honor, integrity, gamesmanship, fair play, honesty and respect, transcend golf and social media.

    1. That’s a great addition Marc. I know it’s tempting, to say you got it in in 12 shots instead of 13 sometimes. No one really cares so they don’t notice…but you’re just cutting corners. It’s better to acknowledge your level of ability, and figure out how you can work to achieve the abilities you seek.

  6. Very interesting prospective to social media and golf. Good points and comparisons. I will assume that Step 8 would be: “The More you play the better you get”? You know the SM comparison to that.
    Have a good one and keep playing golf.

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