Lee Odden

FORE! A Golfer’s Guide to Social Media Marketing

Lee Odden     Social Media


[SEO and social media marketing TopRank team member Jeff Nolan has stepped up to the plate, or in this case, onto the green and submitted the following post about marketing within social media communities using golf as a metaphor. Enjoy!]

Many regular readers of Online Marketing Blog are well aware of our location amidst the cold and frozen land of Minnesota. This gets me thinking about many hobbies this time of year, most notably how I wish there were boats on the lake across from the office rather than ice houses, and that instead of building links daily, I was hitting the links daily.

Yes, you guessed it, there is no place I would rather be right now than on a golf course, which has led me to compare the disturbingly similar synergies between golf and social media.

Playing golf is a game that requires great patience, hard work, a lot of practice and proper club selection. This is much like social media in the fact that becoming good at using social media as part of an organizations or clients marketing objectives requires patience, refinement and proper selection of the different social media channels.

Let’s take a par 4 for example (18 at St. Andrews), you step up to the tee and decide whether you should take out the driver and go for distance, or play an iron to keep your ball in play.

Starting a social media agenda requires much of the same thinking, selecting the proper platform and deciding whether you want to gradually make your way into it the community or to go for the big shot right away. Going for the big chance right away proposes the risk of alienating yourself among the community; much like a drive can errantly end up in the rough, a hazard or out of bounds.

What you need are different clubs for each shot depending on the distance, lie and strategy you want to play the hole with, much like using the “10 Simple Steps To Social Media Success“, as outlined by Chris Winfield of Search Engine Land or all the great social media insight offered in the SEMMYS social media category to reach your marketing objectives.

Setting yourself up in the fairway for the second shot will increase your chances of reaching your objective, to get the ball in the hole, in fewer shots.

Social media strategies are much easier to implement and can be more effective if there is a planned path to the objective, if you are well placed in the community and select the proper strategy from there you will be more successful.

In golf, you want to avoid hitting your ball into water hazards, sand traps or other dangerous places such as the woods or desert. By ending up in the aforementioned areas, you will have a much more difficult path to the hole and it will decrease your likelihood of a good score.

Social media objectives can be seen more clearly when there are no hazards in the way; if you know what channels you should be interacting in and how to do so properly, the outcome will support in what was originally intended.

The eventual goal in golf is to get on the green in as few shots as possible and then turn in a good score by putting the ball in the cup with minimal strokes of the putter.

Once you have created social media strategies that are proven from the start, you will find it much quicker to reach this so called “green” and convert your initial outlook into results.

Remember, you don’t become Tiger Woods by taking shortcuts, becoming impatient and not refining results over time. You do so by making changes, selecting the right clubs, thinking strategically about how you will play the course and most importantly, working harder than everyone else.

With that said, the next time you hit the links, think about the path you take from tee to green and the ultimate goal of lowering your handicap. What do you think it takes to shoot par and lower your social media handicap?

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Avatar Hawaii SEO says

    You can’t play with the expectation that everything you submit will be a hole-in-one.

  2. Great information Lee-it makes me wonder why we aren’t having an SEO summit in Maui for the next month. A fan in Denver!

  3. Avatar Maria Reyes-McDavis says

    Great post, analogy. As usual you hit a hole in one 🙂

  4. Great post Lee. I’d rather be golfing as well. out of curiosity, what club would you equate with MySpace, a 1-iron?

    If you come to the PPCSummit in Vancouver BC next month, I’ll buy you a round at Eagle’s Ridge, the course parts of Happy Gilmore was shot at. I’m pretty sure it will be open and ready for play by then.

  5. Hey Jim, the kudos goes to Jeff Nolan – the post author and our resident golf enthusiast. Would love to be at PPC Summit but am going to London for SES and to visit family. Next time!

  6. you are really messing up my google news alerts.

  7. LOL, glad to capture your attention Jeff Nolan #2. (or #1 depending how you look at it)

  8. Avatar Jack Edelman says

    This is a great blog! It just goes to show that marketing is most effective when highly targeted to your target audience. Especially in a recession, if you target your prospects and reach only those prospects, you will see a quicker ROI. The rubber hits the road in planning how to reach your target market.


    Jack Edelman
    The Promotions Department, Inc.
    [Editor note: signature links are unnecessary – see blog comment policy]

  9. Golf, Marketing & Social Media? I like this line of thought 🙂

  10. Avatar Jack Edelman says

    It’s just like developing relationships…it takes time.