Instant gratification. We want it. We expect it. We’re cranky when we can’t have it. In a world full of high-speed, express, and accelerated solutions; we have developed an insatiable hunger for the fast-fix.

Although many social media interactions take place in lightning-fast real-time, mastering the art of earning a return on your social investments is definitely not a short-term endeavor. There is no such thing as an overnight sensation. There may be a few instances of 15-minute fame, but is that really what you’re after? I didn’t think so. Creating a solid foundation from which you can launch a responsive and interactive community, requires a long-term view.

In addition to being a Savvy Sister, a mom, and a crazy deranged fool, I’m also a backup singer in the very awesome Eric Colville Band. The current iteration of the band has only been playing together for a few months. Our first few gigs were frustrating because things didn’t come together exactly as planned. In retrospect, we’ve realized that we had to go through these imperfect experiences in order to get closer to being a well-oiled machine.

Building a successful social media effort is much like building a rock band. You have to build your group from the ground up – focusing on each piece in turn until the whole thing clicks:

1. The melody: Like a backbone, the melody is the underlying structure of a song. In social media, the “melody” breaks into two parts – a goal-driven strategy and a solid understanding of the technologies that will help you accomplish those goals.

2. The lyric: Now you can start thinking about the words. What message are you trying to convey? How do you want to say it? When developing your lyric study your customers closely. Know who they are, what they’re thinking, what they need, and what they want (two different things, by the way). Listen well and then create a lyric that grabs your audience’s attention.

3. The harmony: As a backup singer, I spend most of my time in this area – enhancing the song by adding counterpoint and providing emphasis. In social media, harmony comes from building the right team, striking the right tone of voice, and drawing your community into a deeper relationship. The give and take of harmony requires hard listening, respect for others’ ideas, and the ability to balance all the voices.

4. The special touches: Our band has all the basics and could get away with playing the songs “straight,” but we know that details like extra percussion (tambourine and shakers), stops with a capella vocals, and kickin’ guitar solos take things up a notch. Social media special touches come from innovation and optimization. Find unique and creative ways to use the social tools, and then be sure to measure and optimize so that each successive effort will be better than the last.

5. The performance: Finally, when you’ve got all the pieces – strategy, technology, message, team, conversation, innovations, and optimizations – in place, you can start to really enjoy the performance. My first few gigs with the band were characterized more by fear than fun; but once we started to work through the kinks, we could focus more on connecting with the audience and drawing them into our performance. That’s a really great feeling.

So, whether you’re a rock star or a marketer, it’s important to remember – both for your success and your sanity – that every overnight success is actually the result of a great deal of hard work. If you’re going to rule the world, you need a plan. You need to put in the time: find the right team, create worthwhile content, and build strong community. You need to have all the pieces in place ahead of time so that when it’s your turn to take the stage, you’re ready to rock the house.

Are you ready to rock?

Here’s the rest of the “Social Media Reality Check” series.