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The First Rule of Social Marketing (Social Marketing Fundamentals)

First rule of social media marketingDave Thomas wrote a great guest post yesterday that looked at where social media fits in your marketing plans. Of course, knowing where to start is half the battle.

So, where do you start?

By following this one simple rule: Social is people.

While there are specific “tips and tricks” to keep in mind about each new social network you use to market your business, the key point is that you’re looking to connect with people, not just sell your wares. People spend time in online social networks for a variety of reasons. But we can summarize those reasons down to just these few:

  1. Staying in touch with friends
  2. Staying in touch with family
  3. Staying in touch with business associates

Keeping those three separate matters. Because you’ve got to understand where your business falls in the social spectrum.

According to research from the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, adults 50 and older cite “staying in touch with family” as their top reason for using social networks. Adults under 50 cite “staying in touch with friends.” Surprisingly, neither group says a big reason is “keeping up with products or services that I use now and again (or even every day, for that matter).” In fact, very few people use social networks to find new friends, find out what celebrities are doing or even find people to sleep with, er… date.

Again, people—your potential customers—aren’t looking to find new relationships using social networks. They’re looking to deepen the relationships they already have. So it’s rare that you’re going to find new customers using social networks, unless your existing customers tell their friends about you.

Now, how is that going to happen?

Don’t worry. We’ll touch on that in our next post.

For now, you need to come to grips with the notion that most people on most social networks aren’t there to connect with you. Yes, you can use social networks to market your brand. But you won’t do it successfully if your approach suggests it’s all about you. It’s not. As with most marketing in the modern world, it’s all about your customers.


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Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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  1. I agree that you have to keep social media marketing personal, but I don’t have the time to be online all day so I found a company called Magicbuz that does the personal marketing for me. They have teams of conversationalists who communicate your business message and ideals directly to people from all walks of life. They speak different languages and come from different backgrounds so together they can market your business to all the different demographic groups.

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