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September 1, 2009

Social Marketing: Not Nearly As Awful As I Feared

I have to admit I’ve been slow to jump on board with the whole social marketing trend.

After so many years spent in marketing and frequently hearing about the “next big thing”, I’ve come to the decision that all these technologies are simply communication tools for building trusting relationships with prospective customers.

No one tool is going to make you a gazillion dollars.

But used with common sense and an understanding of where your customers hang out and what your customers are most wanting, I think social marketing technology is well worth learning to use.

Specifically, social marketing tools like Facebook, Twitter, and Linked extend your ability to make yourself known to prospective customers as well as people who may refer customers to you.

But it takes time and a focus on providing useful information and resources to others without any requirement for receiving in return.

I’ve always been a resource connector by nature (the one who is always emailing articles and snippets to you prefaced with an fyi”) so social media is a comfortable place for me.

If you are wanting results RIGHT NOW, either stay out of social media or hire someone who has a lighter touch. Social media requires a lower key approach. Hype and in-your-face sales tactics turn most members of Social Marketing Land off.

Success Strategies for Using Social Marketing in Your Business

Some strategies that work for cultivating profitable connections in social media.

Think Conversation; not Presentation

Most people hang out on blogs and social networks because they are engaging with others who have similar interests.

Social networks are informal gatherings, like going to your friend’s BBQ. You might talk business but if you do it will be a casual conversation. Not climbing up on a bench and bellowing, “Hey everyone, let me tell you about this great new service I’m offering.”

It is of course possible that a casual business conversation will lead to a “how about we set up a time to talk more next week?” in which case the result is a meeting in which a presentation is appropriate.

Remember the point is to share information and resources that may be helpful to others in a give and take conversation.

Expect to reach out first

There’s a funny T-shirt that reads “More People Have Read This Shirt than My Blog.”

That about sums it up if you expect people to swarm to your blog or follow you on Twitter. Unless you’re maybe Ashton Kuchner.

Actions you can take to reach out include:

  • Finding others who are doing something that is useful to you and your customers and making a point to comment on their posts in a way that adds to the conversation in progress.
  • If you, yourself post to your own blog, include links to articles that support or enhance the points you’re making. Directing people to other blogs is not only helpful to your readers, it is very appreciated by the persons whose blogs you link to.
  • They may even link back to you!
  • Let people know about useful resources in all social media you participate in. I regularly post links to articles, statistics, and other bits of information my clients and colleagues may appreciate.

Be Yourself

Remember your mom telling you to be yourself when you were worried about being liked by people you didn’t know?

Your mom was right.

In addition to sharing information and resources with real, actionable value to my clients and customers, I also share observations, reviews (books, movies, electronics), and of course the occasional anecdote about my cats.

And I share in my own voice similar to how I might talk with co-workers or people I know casually at a party.

Pick Just One and Try it Out

The first explanation I heard about Twitter was “it’s microblogging.”

I still have trouble explaining blogging to a lot of people let alone microblogging.

“Microblogging” is actually a pretty good description but it’s also, in my opinion, somewhat geeky and intimidating if you’re not a social media buff.

So rather than try to figure it all out, I strongly suggest you get yourself an account with Twitter or Facebook or Linked in.

Not all of them, pick just one.

Then give yourself some time to poke around and get a sense of what’s going on.

Start with people you already know, trust and like

Once you get an account, invite people you know, trust, and like to join your network. Or follow them on Twitter. Or subscribe to their blog.

This way you start in a small box with others you may already be connected with. You can feel fairly confident that you’ll be interested in engaged in the conversations they’re having.

As you begin to feel more comfortable you can begin to check out their contacts or look for people interested in a particular topic you love to talk about.

Join Me

If you’re looking to find some people to hang out with in Social Marketingland, I invite you to connect with me.

You need to first sign up for an account. All the social media accounts listed here are free.

Bottom Line

Once I began reaching out more and focused on hanging out with like- minded people, I got used to and even began to enjoy social marketing.

The most important thing to remember is social media is about connection and conversation. If people like what they’re hearing and find value in what you offer, you will begin picking up business and business-related opportunities.

But like any online strategy, it takes time and effort on your end to reach out and contribute first.

And feel free to connect with me on one of the social media tools I mentioned.


Judy Murdoch helps small business owners create low-cost, effective marketing campaigns using word-of-mouth referrals, guerrilla marketing activities, and selected strategic alliances. To download a free copy of the workbook, “Where Does it Hurt? Marketing Solutions to the problems that Drive Your Customers Crazy!” go to http://www.judymurdoch.com/workbook.htm You can contact Judy at 303-475-2015 or judy@judymurdoch.com

One Response to “Social Marketing: Not Nearly As Awful As I Feared

    avatar Natalie Michelson says:

    Great post! I really love your point about conversation versus presentation :)

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