Creating Powerful Habits

A 3 minute read written by Erika October 2, 2012

No body used to brush their teeth. Now everyone does! Blogging will be the same!

By now, if you’ve been following my blog posts, you’ll know that I am a huge fan of engagement. I am forever preaching the importance of engaging with clients, customers, colleagues, and all the potentials you can think of. But the excitement of getting started on engagement activities usually dies for people when the monumental task of developing regular content is set before them.

If you are rarely involved in engagement efforts, especially online ones that carry a much shorter shelf life, it makes sense that the task may seem daunting and, much like the New Year’s gym membership, becomes forgotten after the initial motivation fades.

There are ways to work on this to become better, more efficient, and actually increase the level of enjoyment around the chore. I wouldn’t lie! It’s all about building positive habits.

Like any new habit, blogging and tweeting take the most time at the beginning. You are new to the medium, perhaps you are unsure of your voice and tone, and you probably over think your message to the point of it becoming no longer timely.

I promise you, it does get easier!

I’ve been reading the book The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg. As a marketer, I can attribute a lot of what he teaches to solving the problems people have with creating regular content. It demonstrates how habits are formed and how marketers use these habits to change behaviours in hopes that customers will buy their product.

For example, Claude Hopkins, a famous advertiser from the 1930’s is the man you can thank for your dazzling pearly whites. Before him, less than 10 per cent of Americans had toothpaste in their medicine cabinets. Toothpaste was deemed unnecessary even by dentists, despite failing dental hygiene.

Hopkins identified how to get people to crave the minty fresh feeling of toothpaste every day, which in turn, created a habit that everybody has as part of their daily routine. So he turned a product no one used into something everyone now depends on at least once a day, hopefully twice.

Hopkins wasn’t selling beautiful teeth. He was selling a sensation. Once people craved that cool tingling - once they equated it with cleanliness - brushing became a habit.”

The trick to creating a habit is identifying what craving will help drive the activity. What motivates you most to blog, tweet, or talk about your company? A spike in hits to your website? Retweets? Identify your reward because it will be crucial in your success with developing these healthy habits.

Tips to get you started

In chapter 1 of the book, Duhigg talks about the MIT researchers who discovered a simple neurological loop that lies at the core of every habit. The loop consists of three parts: a cue, a routine, and a reward.

So that’s all you need!

The Cue - set an alert on your computer to signify when it’s time to shut down all distractions and just devote a small portion of time to blog writing, planning, and overall content development.

The Routine - Write! Brainstorm! Get those fingers flying over that keyboard. It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare, it just has to be a step towards creating the routine, building the habit.

The Reward - When I wanted to start running in the morning, my reward was receiving my running stats on my iPod, post-workout. What can I say, I like to be graded. So collecting those stats were my gold stars. And it actually motivated me to get out of bed at 6am and convince my legs to carry me around the neighbourhood for an hour. What’s your gold star? What’s going to help motivate you?

Sign up to Google Alerts and start tracking mentions that you get online based on your blog, or other social activity. Keep a spreadsheet of your Twitter activity and track the growth you receive from posting regular content. And learn to love Facebook Analytics, where you can track how your posts impact your following.

Whatever the reward is, this is where you get to revel in it. Your hard work has paid off and you now kind of look forward to doing it all over again. Right?

Comment below and let us know what motivates you!