Having trouble with a social media marketing campaign? The problem may not be your message, or your considerable effort. It could be one simple, but essential quality: consistency.

In an engaging essay at The Huffington Post, Nika Stewart suggests that “an instant gratification mentality is certainly the pervasive attitude of many entrepreneurs as they dive into social media marketing.”

Stewart, a Social Media Strategist, national speaker, and CEO of GhostTweeting.com, describes a common experience for social media marketers.

“When, after a couple of weeks of sporadic tweeting, random Facebook shares, and an occasional Google+ post fails to catapult them into the next tax bracket, they’re often left feeling bewildered,” Stewart says. “Because despite their most Herculean efforts, they inexplicably have not been able to garner more than a few likes, retweets, and followers.”

The usual conclusion reached by the marketer: Social media does not work.

Wrong, says Stewart.

Stewart’s take is not only spot on, but also amusing. She relates some comments she has heard:

“I tried Google+. Nothing happened. I tweeted like mad last week. Why didn’t my sales double? I changed my profile picture on LinkedIn and I’m still unemployed. What gives?”

Stewart knows what gives.

“The one ingredient that keeps people from reaching their social media goals is the same ingredient missing in most fitness plans: consistency,” she says.

Stewart posits that social media is not a short-term tactic — it’s a lifestyle.

“Social media is not a quick-fix method you can employ to drive instant sales; and it definitely is not something that “works” when it is dabbled with inconsistently,” she says. “For social media to be effective for you and your business, you need to change your mindset. Simply put: Social media is a lifestyle.”

Stewart offers advice on the areas in which marketers need to be consistent:

1. Frequency: How often do you post? Once a day, eight times a day, three times a week? The exact numbers are not as important as regularity. Create a schedule and stick to it.

2. Branding: Make sure everything you post is in harmony with how you want to be perceived. Your social media content needs to align with the core personality and tone of your brand.

3. Message: Align your social media content with your current messaging and campaigns. When your inbound and traditional marketing strategies match, you inspire confidence among your clients and prospects.

4. Engagement: How consistently do you connect? Do you respond to questions in a reliable fashion? Do you thank people whenever they share your information? Social media is a two-way vehicle; it is not merely a platform for you to broadcast your message relentlessly.

5. Across Platforms: All of your social media accounts need to have the same photos, logos, and descriptions. Consistent information across all channels promotes a positive brand experience and fosters trust.

6. Remember: The greatest factor determining your success in social media is how well you are able to maintain consistency in your efforts.