Removing the Cat Turds from the Social Media Sandbox

socialmediasandboxDid you have a sandbox as a kid?  I did and it was place where I could play and be as creative and constructive as my heart desired.

It was GREAT fun to play in my sandbox until the fateful day when I realized that my play area had become a port-a-pot for the neighborhood cats.

I remember trying to clean up my sandbox so I could enjoy it again, but once the neighborhood cats found my little patch of sand in the backyard

-there was no going back.

Years later, when I had children of my own, imagine my delight to discover that some other entrepreneurial soul had come up with a solution – a sandbox WITH A COVER!  I bought the first one I saw for my kids.

The catch?

Once the kids were done playing, they had to put the cover back on the sandbox before they came inside.  Being kids – my kids specifically – the practice of placing the cover over the top of the sandbox stopped after – oh, say the third day.  It wasn’t long before I heard the wails as my children discovered – the hard way – the consequences of not covering their beloved sandbox.

The Social Media Sandbox

A blog is a tool in the social media sandbox… just like the pink pail in the image above.  Fill the pail with dry sand and when you turn the bucket over – the sand will pour out into a shapeless pile.

There’s not much fun in that.

However, when you add a little H2O to the sand-  suddenly the sand retains it shape! The addition of a little water creates a literally endless array of possibilities for creativity and construction!

When we first moved to Florida, I purchased an book on building sand sculptures.  It was fascinating, but I realized that I really didn’t want to work that hard when I went to the beach.  However, I learned that scooping wet sand into a bucket and overturning it isn’t the ONLY way to build a sand castle.

If you’ve wondered why your blog hasn’t been delivering the results you wanted to see from it – it’s because:

  1. You haven’t been adding water to the sand.
  2. You haven’t been adding the right amount of water to the sand.
  3. You not using your bucket correctly.

If you’ve ever gone to the beach and begun an ambitious sand castle project, you’ll notice that the further along you get in the construction of your sand castle – the more “interest” you’ll get from passers by.

Sit on the beach and dump dry sand out of your bucket for hours on end, and all you’ll get is a few pitying glances.

On the other hand, when you begin an ambitious sand castle building project – well, at first you won’t get much attention either.

However, as you build it and it become apparent that you’re building something big – people will start to notice.   People will start to gather – curious to watch the process.   You may find you actually get volunteers who want to help become a part of what you’re building.

Social Media Marketing is just like Building Sandcastles

  1. You have to start with the end in mind.  If you don’t have a strategy in place when you begin using social media, you can’t expect social media to yield results.
  2. At first, no one will notice – or care what you’re doing.  Most people can’t “see” it with their mind before they see it with their eyes.  It’s not until your sand castle starts to take shape that people begin to notice.
  3. Even when there are lots of people on the beach – very few of them are building sand castles.  Most people at the beach are lying in the sun.  More people are reading books than building sand castles.

Sandcastles and sandboxes are a great analogy for social media.

If you don’t have the right “strategy” (knowing what to do – a.k.a. adding water and knowing the end result – a.k.a. “a plan”) you’ll just find yourself scooping sand and pouring dry sand.  Playing like that in the sandbox loses its appeal quickly and when the cats arrive, well – it makes it easy to abandon the sandbox for good.

The key to creating a work of art sandcastle includes knowing WHAT you want to build.  Once you know what you want to build, then the techniques for achieving the desired results are actually quite simple.  The same it true for blogging – and every other tool in the social media marketing toolbox.

Social media can be a GREAT sandbox – one with unlimited opportunities for creativity and construction – the rub is you need to make certain you have a social media strategy in place so you can create beautiful sandcastles.  Even if you’re miles away from the closest beach – you can still add water and have fun creating your own sandcastles in your backyard – even if you’re miles from the closest beach.


  1. Hi Kathy – I love the analogy. Trouble is, when it comes to social media and blogging in particular, a lot of people give up before they’ve even laid the foundations of their beautiful sandcastle.

  2. Cath – A hearty AMEN to people giving up LONG before they even lay a foundation. I just got an email from a client with a brand new blog. She has one post and she wants to check her stats!! ACK!!!

  3. I agree with Cath as well. I’ve experienced quitting my blogs several times waaaay before it was time.

    Pt 2 under “Social Media Marketing is just like Building Sandcastles”… superb!

    That client part is funny Kathy.

  4. Hi Kathy.This is a super great analogy — love it! I’m laughing at your reply to Cath now. This new client of yours definitely has an “innocent” perspective, being a new blogger. If she checks her stats, hopefully she won’t be discouraged or overwhelmed.

    Davinas last blog post..When Surgery is a Laughing Matter

  5. Davina,

    I’m fairly confident she’s going to be disappointed – even though she’s already had her first RSS subscriber sign up in the first week. Unfortunately, her expectations are WAY out of line. Blogging reality isn’t pretty – as you’re well aware!

  6. Well said. Blogging is like any other pursuit. Once we really nail down with crystal clarity, exactly what we want – we can go for it! But wondering around in generalities leaves us with a sandbox with no borders. That’s really not a box or a blog at all. It’s just a pile of …

    Tom Volkar / Delightful Works last blog post..Loving Your Work is Overrated

  7. Tom – VERY NICELY PUT!!! Bravo!!!

  8. This was just a great read! Very inspiring. I am definitely a new blogger and some days it does seem like there is no one listening! (I linked to my actual website here because I am in the process of moving my blog.)

    I love the community and it is so fun to discover the connections through the blogs. Tom, congratulations on a great interview over on Life Made Great! (I’m a subscriber.)

  9. Jack and Amy – WELCOME!!!

    I’ve been talking with a couple of people lately who are hesitant to “make the leap” into blogging. It can be fun – and it can be profitable – but it’s not a ticket to overnight success.

  10. Hi Kathy – I am just cracking up at the title of this post!
    LMAO! And your client checking her stats. Shoot, I was ecstatic to get a comment after I don’t know how long we were at it. But your post nails it – social media, whatever the method or tool, can be derailed by expectations. Granted, we can choose to use it for whatever we please, but we deserve what we get in correlation to what we give. I always seem to be reminding myself to do a better job with the giving part. Luckily, I don’t have to look very far to find sterling examples to emulate. Thanks.

    Betsy Wuebkers last blog post..TRIGGERING THE LOVE OF TRAVEL

  11. Betsy,

    I’m glad you “got” the title! But I have to say, you are indeed a SHINING example of someone who’s “doing it right”. YOU GO GIRL!

  12. I really like your analogy of the sand box. It’s true that nothing is instant and in the beginning, it doesn’t look like much, but the more you put into it, the more it will become. You have to hate it when a big wave come crashing in though and destroys everything! ;o)

  13. One of the best ways to make your brand work is to harness what are called key differentiators from your competitors. If you are successful at this, customers will choose your products or services because your company provides something the others do not.

    Joys last blog post..Power Networking Event