This is a parable, turned into an analogy, involving a consumed Oreo Cookie Shake and an unconsumed sweet potato.
This week, traveling on my way to my hotel, I really had a craving for an Oreo Cookie Shake from Jack In The Box. I looked up the closest location on my phone and ended up going a little bit out of my way to get it.
So, I get there and the shake machine is broken. No Oreo Cookie Shakes. In my head, I say “Damn you, world!” Out loud I say “Thank you, nothing else for me. Good night.” and pull out of the drive-through. But I find another Jack In The Box on my phone and start driving to it because now I REALLY want an Oreo Cookie Shake because I was SO close.
So, I drive, get a little turned around, finally find the Jack In The Box and get my Oreo Cookie Shake. Success! And boy did it taste good. I mean, REALLY good. (For those of you who followed my triumph of losing 30 pounds in 90 days, you can understand why it tasted like heaven.)
And it struck me as I'm drinking it, this one Oreo Cookie Shake isn't going to kill me. It's not going to make me gain five pounds. And it’s really making me happy at that moment.
But, I think about how I drove by a huge Whole Foods twice and could have gone in and gotten a sweet potato instead to fill my craving. It wouldn't have tasted as good in the moment, but it would have still been tasty, fulfilling, satisfied my sweet tooth.
More importantly, even though it would be really hard to see the effect of that ONE sweet potato, I would know that it did better things for me than that Oreo Cookie Shake.
Which, finally, gets me to my point: today (and everyday) businesses using social media are going to have to choose between lots of different decisions – what to post, what to RT, what to respond to, what businesses to partner with, how edgy to get, etc.
The question is: Are you going to choose an Oreo Cookie Shake, or a sweet potato?
Personally, I’m reinvigorated to ask myself: Is this an Oreo Cookie Shake (satisfies a personal craving, something I am getting fixated on, doesn't have long-term benefits) or is this a sweet potato (less sexy, humbly satisfying, something done for the long term, will end up making you look and feel like a rock star in the long run)?
Good luck on finding your sweet potatoes.