How Not to Go Visit the Grand Canyon And Lessons for Social Media
I was under the impression that the drive from Las Vegas to the Grand Canyon was just about 2.5 hours. There were plenty of tour buses that would pick you up early in the morning from your hotel, bring you there and return you just in time for dinner, so a day trip seemed feasible.
I was in Vegas to organize a conference. It was three days of intensive activities following several weeks of intensive planning and preparation. Consequently, I had been too busy to adequately plan this feasible day trip, but I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I rented a car and picked up a friend who had also been too busy to plan.
We lingered over coffee and then left with a notion of the right direction and a sense of what we were doing. Once on the road, we Googled the day and made plans for a hike on the South Rim. We followed Google Maps and diligently turned off at the big sign that said “Grand Canyon This Way.” So far so good. But somewhere in the midst of the Joshua Trees, we started to realize we weren’t heading where we thought we wanted to go. We were on track to go to an outlook where there was no hiking. At this point, we’d lost access to Google Maps and had to rely on old-fashioned paper maps. None of this would have been a major problem except that I had a plane to catch later that day.
As best we could without GPS to give us an exact time, we estimated how long it would take to get to where we wanted to go and then how long to get to the airport. It would be undoubtedly close. We knew it was unlikely that we would get time to hike even if we made it to the South Rim. But what is life if not a daring adventure? Besides, the speed limit out that way happens to be 75 miles per hour. (It’s just 65 around where I live.) And so, off we went in the new right direction.
The thing about traveling out west is that you don’t always feel like you are getting anywhere. Everything looks the same so you can travel for hours and feel like you’re driving on a treadmill. But then, several dozen longhorn steer sitings later, you’re there. Maybe a little frustrated that the car in front of you is going so slowly when you are finally just minutes from your destination and from setting yourself up to miss a plane, but there none the less.
And it is every bit as spectacular as everyone says. You go along a rather ordinary path through rather ordinary looking trees and then there is an opening and you come to the edge of the ground on which you are standing and you see these magnificent, textured, richly colored walls of the canyon off in the distance. And you say what just about everyone must say when they see it – deep breath and “wow.”
We had just enough time to snap a few pictures, sit precariously on a ledge and take more pictures, and then grab one more last look as the setting sun lit up the far edge while taking a few more pictures before running (literally!) back to the car for the four-plus hour long drive to catch my plane. Which I did, just on time.
Here is what I learned:
- Do some research before the trip. We might not have gone if we’d known what we were really in for. But if we had known, we might have managed the day better.
- Paper maps are a great thing. Learn to read them if you don’t know how and carry them with you.
- Don’t give up. If you are certain you want something, you need to be persistent. There are a lot of opportunities to bail, but the only way to get there is to keep doing even if it sometimes means backtracking.
- Let go of perfection. The trip may not go exactly as you planned but appreciate it for what it is.
How This Relates to Social Media and Marketing
The lessons here are not just for traveling, they apply equally well to your social media and communication efforts.
- Do research before you start so you know better what you are getting yourself into. At some point, you just need to get started, but the more you know, the better you can make decisions.
- Plans, like maps, are a great thing. You may need to write your own, but having one will give you something to follow when you start to feel lost.
- Don’t give up. It can take awhile to build your audience, and you may not feel like you’re getting anywhere. It can be like driving through the desert. But if you keep going, you will get there.
- Let go of perfection. There will always be somebody who looks like they’re doing it better. That doesn’t matter. This is your trip. You are reaching your audience. Learn from what others are doing, strive to improve what you’re doing, but appreciate what you have right now.
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Good advice, Jennifer. But look at it this way. If you hadn’t messed up with your planning, you wouldn’t have had column fodder.
March 4, 2017