Mom’s Guide To Social Marketing

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Your mother, if she did her job right, taught you everything you need to know about how to get along in the world and how to get ahead in it. When we were kids, we thought these rules were silly, but later we learned her advice was pretty valuable. In honor of Mother’s Day (May 13), we’ve put her wisdom to work in online marketing.

Mom's Guide To Social Marketing
Mom’s Guide To Social Marketing

Mom’s Top 10 Steps To A Good Online Reputation

1.    Put Your Best Foot Forward: As recently as a year ago, when things were newer, more experimental, a presence on MySpace only was fine. Not so anymore. You have to be everywhere, treating branding in the online world the way you would in the real world. Most social networks allow you to set up a profile page for free (the ones that matter most do anyway). Create your online persona (a polite one), then clone it as necessary.

2.    Make Eye Contact: Just like in the real world, wallflowers don’t get noticed. The wallflower is most likely an incredible resource – it’s just that nobody knows her because she doesn’t put herself out there. Be a participant by commenting, inviting, giving. Show up at your new neighbor’s door with a gift. It always goes over well – just remember to button your blouse.

3.    You Are a Reflection of Your Mother (Company): Nobody likes a poorly kept lawn except the lazy bum that lives behind it. Maintain your public face on the social networks, shine your shoes, crease your pants, embrace your OCD. It may not be your homepage, but it is a home away from home. Maintaining several of these online presences is work, but so is business.

4.    Keep An Open Mind: There’s an appropriate cliché for every situation – all your eggs in one basket comes to mind here – but I prefer my grandfather’s chestnut: "You drove your ducks to a damn poor market." Poetic, that man was. For a long time it was search, search, search. Before that it was email, email, email. But now you need to integrate your campaign. Search is a staple, a pillar of your online campaign, but we also know that Wikipedia ranks consistently number one in the SERPs. That means you need a Wikipedia page, too. Note: YouTube also ranks well.

5.    Become Necessary: Viral marketing is tricky, difficult business. But maybe it doesn’t have to be. Maybe if you realign your approach to reflect what you, as an individual enjoy, instead of being a salesperson, you can find a more intuitive connection with what the public wants to see. It’s often been said that a salesman sells himself more than the product. So if you want to make linkbait, think about what would cause you to bite first. If you look at your viral attempt and see more corporate talking points than linkable material, it’s time for a do-over.

6.    Like the People that Like You (Even If You Think They’re Annoying): Barack Obama’s campaign people did something brilliant, and followed up with something not so brilliant. That makes it a great case study. An Obama fan set up a MySpace page and soon attracted thousands of friends. Instead of competing with his biggest fan, Obama endorsed the site as the official MySpace campaign headquarters. That was the brilliant part. After the page got to be "bigger than" the original operator, the campaign crew staged a coup to wrest control of the page from their biggest fan. That was the not so brilliant part, even if politics is mean by nature.

7.    Watch Your Mouth: Again with the clichés that still hold true – if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all. Steve Rubel learned the hard way that stream-of-consciousness blogging can have you saying something you wish you hadn’t. Transparency doesn’t mean total access.

8.    Don’t Be a Fake: Who do we dislike most in civilized society (aside from the violent)? Liars, cheats, and thieves. We don’t like them because we view them as betrayers. That principle applies online, too, when your network discovers you’re not what you say you are. And the mob’s wrath is one that is hard to endure. Ask Edelman PR about their Wal-Marting Across America campaign.

9.    Mind Your Manners: Mom’s favorite maxim still applies: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Commonly referred to as the Golden Rule on Earth, in Cyberspace, manners and etiquette are becoming increasingly more important. People are getting angry about anonymous drive-by (rude) commentary, salesy and useless comment spam (spam in general constitutes harassment in some form)…the list of ethics and etiquette violations is a long one, so it’s probably best to ask yourself: Would I appreciate this if it were done to me?

10.    Stay Hip. Right now, MySpace, Facebook, Wikipedia, and YouTube are essential, but they’re still relatively new. Few really saw SecondLife coming as a virtual marketplace. Still yet, only the early adopters are talking about Twitter. But change online is swift, and the smart marketer keeps up with what’s hot. The last thing you want to do is look outdated. Just don’t sell out your core identity in the process.    

While that’s just ten guidelines out of many, Mom always had one rule that ruled them all: Use your head, dodo bird! This is a thinking man’s game.

Indeed it is. Good luck with your campaigns.

Mom’s Guide To Social Marketing
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  • Marianne McEachern

    I really miss mine. That line about “If you can’t say something nice don’t say anything at all” really hit home. My mom said it A LOT while we were growing up, and it hold true always. Things have a way of coming back around to get you, so if you stick to Mom’s wisdom, you won’t be “got”!!

  • Barbara Feldman

    Not only were these great tips, but more importantly the article was a terrific example of how to tie current events and/or holidays into our articles and PR.

    Barbara J. Feldman

  • Leo

    “After the page “got too big” for the original operator, the campaign crew took staged a coup to wrest control of the page from their biggest fan. That was the not so brilliant part, even if politics is mean by nature.”

    If your going to report somthing please research it first, the fan in question tried to charge Obama around $85,000 for the contacts he had established and changed the password so that they could no longer get in, that is the real reason Obama’s people took over.
    (as a side note Obama also called and talk to the guy and smoothed things over)

    • Jason Lee Miller

      Leo, first let me thank you for pointing out my editing errors. There are a couple things there I’ll need to look at.

      They don’t have to do with my research, however. My guess is that you focused on the Obama part and not on the politeness part. You must not be from the South.

      Since you only offered your first name, I’ll have to ask. Are you one of the campaign managers that booted a MySpace member and an Obama supporter from his own page?

      You see, $85,000 is different than the Washington Post reported. They said Joe Anthony, the guy who designed the page, sent a $39,000 bill for two years of service only after the Obama campaign got MySpace to turn over the domain. MySpace did so, according to WaPo, because Obama’s name was used in the URL.

      You’re right, though, the phrase wasn’t "too big for him," that was my error. The exact quote was:

      "We wanted to work with Joe. But at the end of the day, this page is bigger than him," said campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki

      Wow. Jen’s a little condescending, don’t you think?

      But the skirmish began because of disagreements between Anthony and the campaign people right? That was the understanding I had from the article (which is part of the research you wished I had done).

      Aside for the reason Obama’s people took over, are you saying that you think its fair to Anthony what they did? That could be a matter of opinion. My opinion is that it was not.

      Something else I learned from Mom: never trust politicians, lawyers, or people that won’t look you in the eye…I’m going to modify that to include people running campaigns and anonymous commentators.

      Either way though, if you’re part of the campaign, I’d love to hear your dispute with WaPo.


  • Murray

    FYI- “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is not in the Bible”.

    “Love your neighbor as yourself” is in the Bible and is where people get the above statement.

    • Jason Lee Miller

      dang…and I know my scripture pretty well, too…my fault.

      that saying was on a plaque hanging on the bathroom wall at the church I grew up in…guess I just assumed it was verbatim…thanks for pointing that out

  • Outback Jack

    I often don’t read the sales pitches that come my way but this one caught my eye. Yes the common sense and common curtesy that our mothers taught us put us in good stead to do good business, ethically.

    Mum I think had a higher authority guiding her – the Bible. So much good wisdom comes from on high. Good job guys.

  • Janna Halioris

    Thanks for these words of wisdom. I am in the process of trying to get the hang of this social marketing. It is like I miss some basics, however I’ll continue and will not become a wallflower.

  • Stuart Ward

    I don’t want to blow too much smoke, but I really did enjoy reading this article and it has reaffirmed the necessity to be ethical in marketing. Time’s person of the year for 2006 only makes it more clear that dishonest businesses will get caught. I usually don’t subscribe to email news, but webpronews articles usually contain interesting or useful information and I read them carefully.

    I’m looking forward to more.


  • Jose Luis

    Great tips. Thank you.

    Jose Luis R

  • Sunnie Ford

    Terrific article & easy to see how linking this new world to good ole Mom made a lot of sense. Thanks.

  • itumeleng

    will you please send me a special sms for mother’s day.

  • Sharron Mirikitani

    Finally, an article that sums up my thoughts about the changes in internet marketing! With the ever growing number of unsolicited emails, we need to mind our p’s and q’s and put our best foot forward. Personally, I hate unsolicited mail in the mailbox in front of my house as well as the mailbox on my computer screen. If I want an item, I go searching for it and if you have good advertising and excellent seo, I will find you in a web search.

    With so many scammers out there, putting your best foot forward and adding the personal element is critical. It is becoming increasingly important to build an excellent internet reputation and a social network.

    Thank you for an excellent article.

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