Every year, Social Media Marketing World gathers the best and brightest from all parts of the social and marketing worlds: social measurement and optimization platforms, social and digital branding leads from large and local brands, entrepreneurs and consultants, and individual influencers and experts from platforms like Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and more.

And #SMMW17 was no different. But one key theme kept coming up in the sessions again and again: There is no shortcut for success.

The speakers focused on a variety of topics, from live streaming and audience growth to employee engagement and audio storytelling, but many of them urged caution and gave the caveat that there is no silver bullet-- in order to achieve success with your initiatives, you're going to need hard work, authenticity, and time.

IT TAKES TIME

"On average, it takes people 2.5 years to build a successful personal brand. Do you have the 30-month mindset?"
-- Mark Schaefer

So many entrepreneurs and marketers are looking for a secret, a hack, a trick to achieve success overnight. But as Mark Schaefer talked about in his session, success has a much longer tail. He stressed the importance of planning for the long term in order to build a brand, whether personal or professional. Expecting overnight success is a mistake, and will often lead to giving up just before you make some headway.

CONSISTENCY IS KEY

"Produce cool stuff for your market every single day for a very long time. As long as you do that, your brand will grow."
-- Nathan Chan

Simply waiting around for 30 months won't get your brand built, though. Those 30 months need to be packed with consistent effort, content, improvement and engagement. Whether you're a podcaster, writer, speaker, designer or something else, you need to be consistently producing something of quality for your audience in order to keep them engaged and keep proving your value.

QUALITY OVER QUANTITY

"A large audience does not mean it is an actionable audience."
-- Mark Schaefer

Simply having 100,000 followers or 10,000 email subscribers isn't a mark of success. The point isn't simply to amass a following, but to be able to mobilize them. And you can't buy your way to a dedicated and engaged following; you can't purchase a passionate tribe. This means you may need to change the way you set goals and evaluate progress; simply hitting a certain follower number shouldn't be seen as the end of an initiative. Don't ask how to get them, but how to engage with them and keep them engaged as you push toward more complex goals.

DO IT FOR THE RIGHT REASON

"If you're doing a podcast to make money, you're doing it for the wrong reason."
-- Mark Mason

If all of this sounds like hard work, it's because it is. And if your reasons for doing it are based on short-term or immediate feedback -- money, fame, etc.-- you're going to have a hard time staying dedicated and continuing a high level of effort through the long road it takes to accomplish your complex goals.

Find a deeper reason for doing what you're doing, and your passion and dedication will remain when the going gets tough.