Ron Swanson

Social Media Marketing Tips from Pawnee’s Finest

In Articles by Kelly Stephenson

The Parks & Recreation Guide to Social Media Marketing

Ask someone for their favorite Ron Swanson quote and, unless they’re feeling peckish, chances are they’ll say:

Never half-ass two things. Whole ass one thing.- Ron Swanson

“Never half-ass two things. Whole ass one thing.”
– Ron Swanson

(Side note: if they ask “who is Ron Swanson?”, congratulate yourself for getting the opportunity to introduce them to their new favorite thing.)

Of all Ron’s great advice over the 125 episodes of Parks and Recreation, this is perhaps the wisest, with a wide range of application. As a freelancer faced with a buffet of choices for how and when to promote yourself and interact with your potential customers in social media, it’s just the beginning.

Social Media Marketing: The Old Way

Every day I start by hittin up Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instragram. Sometimes I like to throw in LinkedIn for the professional shawtys. – Tom Haverford

“Every day I start by hittin’ up Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instragram.
Sometimes I like to throw in LinkedIn for the professional shawtys.”
– Tom Haverford

In the not too distant past, the mantras of social media marketing largely boiled down to being everywhere all the time. We were advised to spew out as much content as possible so you could insert self-promotion on a regular basis without looking too self-serving. Marketers jumped on every new platform as it gained even a hint of sustainability. But it isn’t sustainable, and somehow that has made everything worse.

When brands couldn’t keep up with the content demands, they abandoned their accounts or turned to technology to keep up the charade. Apps appeared allowing users to broadcast a single message across any and every social media platform that opened up their API. Before long, it was just computers reading computers and regurgitating the same content over and over with as little human interaction as possible.

Let’s not do that anymore, okay?

Social Media Marketing: The Ron Swanson Way

You had me at meat tornado. - Ron Swanson

“If it doesn’t have meat, it’s a snack.”
“Give me all the bacon and eggs you have.”
“I need five courses for dinner. And each course will be steak.”
“Fish meat is practically a vegetable.”
“You’ve accidentally given me food my food eats.”
– Ron Swanson

I could have chosen my favorite meat-related Ron Swanson quote, but this helps make my point. Ron has a one-track mind when it comes to what he eats. He focuses his energy on one food group, one channel if you will. You don’t need to be as aggressively disdainful of other channels as he is of anything vegetable-like, but you will definitely benefit from his perspective.

Unlike Tom, you don’t have hours on end to devote to developing content for multiple social media channels. You have actual things to do. Pick one channel, or even two if online socialization comes more naturally to you, but not all of them. And then get moving.

No one knows what they’re doing. Deep down, everyone is just faking it until they figure it out. – April Ludgate

“No one knows what they’re doing. Deep down, everyone is just faking it until they figure it out.”
– April Ludgate

Put another way: it’s okay to make it up as you go along. Start first in the channel you know best. You may find that you can’t get traction in Facebook without paying for it. You may find that scheduling tweets to fire off during your day job works well to supplement your active usage later in the day.

Experiment with posting patterns and rhythms until you find out what works best for you. You have to give yourself some time to figure it out, though.Throwing in the towel too soon leads to flitting from channel to channel. And that’s nothing more than half-assing one … erm … channel at a time.

The only reason I’m even on Twitter is to blow off steam about work. – Donna Meagle

“The only reason I’m even on Twitter is to blow off steam about work.”
– Donna Meagle

If I’m part of your target demographic, you’ll want to know that my Tumblr and Pinterest accounts may as well be for two different people.

If you want to promote the latest issue of your comic, your Carol Corp earrings or con sketch pricing, you’ll want to Tumbl those images and info to me. Pinterest, on the other hand is for recipes, crafts, kids activity ideals, hairstyle hacks for my daughter’s hair (and mine, who am I kidding). Unless you have an adorable pattern for me to buy from your Etsy shop or some helpful printables for a Minecraft party, you’re not going to grab me.

Understanding where your fans and potential fans are on social media is only the first step. You also need to figure out why they’re there. Pay attention to what your audience is doing in that channel. If they’re not already talking about what you want to say, look for that message somewhere else.

It's the small victories that keep you going. – Jerry Gergich

“It’s the small victories that keep you going.”
– Jerry Gergich

Social media marketing is a slow burn. It takes time to build a following. There will definitely be times when you strike the exact right tone at the exact right moment and your post soars well beyond its expected reach. But the better victories, and certainly the more common ones, are when you move the needle a little bit, increasing awareness for yourself and your brand.

A smooth and silky evening to you all. – Duke Silver

“A smooth and silky evening to you all.”
– Duke Silver

Doesn’t that rich baritone just fill you with confidence? Keep an eye on your follower counts, how often your content is engaging (with likes, shares, retweets, pins, etc) and if it’s steadily growing and leads to actual revenue, you’re doing just fine.

Whole-ass it, the Ron Swanson way.

About the Author

Kelly Stephenson


Kelly Stephenson is a digital marketing and communications strategist. She currently provides content optimization and metrics-inspired strategy for a major health care provider in St. Louis. But she's also been a software developer, project manager, website tester and a social media copywriter. Her own business, SageLark, provides social media strategy and and copywriting for small businesses, non-profit fundraising organizations, digital agencies and corporations.