The Secret to Mastering Social Marketing

Social Marketing is huge.  It’s everywhere.  If you work in advertising today, you’re going to be asked how your clients can take advantage of it, how they can manage and control it.   There are now books, sites, departments, conferences, even companies devoted to Social Marketing.

The Secret to Mastering Social Marketing

Through these venues you’ll encounter a billion strategies and tactics for taking control of the Social Marketing maelstrom.  Some simple – some stupidly convoluted.

And yet through all of that there is really only one idea that you need to embrace.  One idea that rises above all the others.  One idea that trumps any social marketing tactic anyone has ever thought of ever.

It’s like that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark  when Indy is in Cairo meeting with that old dude who is translating the ancient language on the jeweled headpiece that would show exactly where to dig.  And suddenly it dawns on them that the bad guys only had partial information.

“They’re digging in the wrong place!”

Well if you are focused on social marketing strategies and tactics – you’re digging in the wrong place.

You don’t control social marketing.  You don’t manage it.  You are the subject of it.

The secret to mastering social marketing is this:

Make the best product, and provide the best customer service.

Do this, and social marketing will happen.  Like magic.  That’s it.

Make the best product, and provide the best customer service.

There is no social marketing strategy that can turn a bad product or service into a good one.  No button, no tweet, no viral video campaign, no Facebook like-count, that will produce better social marketing results than simply offering the best product and customer service in your category.

And if this whole outlook deflates the hopes you had when you began reading this, you are probably among those searching for some easy, external way of wielding new tools and associated interactions in order to manipulate potential customers.  Of gaming the system.  Sorry.   You’re digging in the wrong place.

Social marketing is just the truth.  Or rather it needs to be.   And any effort you put into manipulating that truth will undermine your credibility when it’s revealed – because it will be.  In fact, with rare exception, your mere intervention in the social exchange will be, and should be, regarded with suspicion.

Like when the other guy’s lawyer tells you it’s a really good deal – just sign here.  O..kay…

Take the recent case of Virgin Media.  Reported to have some of the worst customer service satisfaction in the industry.  Something I can personally attest to.

It took me three months, eight take-the-entire-day-off-work-and-wait-around-for-them-to-show-up-at-an-undisclosed-time appointments (three of which were no-shows) and countless interminable phone calls to their based-on-current-call-volume-it-could-take-over-an-hour-for-an-operator automated answering system, to install one internet connection.  It then took an additional seven months (not exaggerating) to activate cable TV in my home (all the while paying for it monthly no less). But what makes this relevant was that after all the scheduling, rescheduling, no-shows, begging, re-rescheduling, being insulted, ignored and generally treated like a complete waste of the company’s effort, the day I Tweeted that “Virgin Media Sucks!”, I got an immediate response – in that public forum, not privately – feigning sincere interest in helping me.

Alas the superficial social marketing tactic was in utter conflict with the truth.  And so here I am, throwing Virgin Media under the train as a poster-child of disingenuous social marketing strategies, dutifully reporting how utterly crappy and self-centered the company is, making sure that many more people know that Virgin’s voice in the social scene is a complete sham and should  be regarded with extreme suspicion… because their customer service indeed sucks complete ass.

Conversely, had Virgin Media put effort into helping me when I needed them to – this post would be a lot shorter.  Hell I might even have tweeted that Virgin Media is insanely great and the leader to go with.

Anyone who indeed manages to trick a portion of this population – this internet-connected population – will eventually see it blow up and that will be far more damaging than if they’d left well enough alone.  You can’t lie in the age of full exposure.

Just create the best product or service in your category.  And then serve your customers and the inquiring public better than anyone else using whatever communication tools are available at the given moment in time.

Because you don’t master social marketing, you simply serve your King.

AdBlock Works Like Magic, Ad Agencies Collectively Wet Selves

The poor ad industry. It just keeps getting its ass handed to it.

Well here we go again.

For years I have wished there was a magic button I could push that would eliminate all ads from any web page. A friend responded by suggesting that that’s stupid, and you shouldn’t have to push a button, it should just happen automatically. Well, right. Duh.

I was then introduced to AdBlock for Chrome and Safari.

Install one of these browser extensions and like magic you will instantly and miraculously be browsing an ad-free internet. It is the Internet you always imagined but cynically never thought you would see.

Literally, no ads – anywhere. No popups, no overlays, no banners, no stupid, hyperactive, take-over-your-screen “cool, immersive experiences” designed to earn some half-rate art director a Clio at your preciously timed expense. Nope – all gone. Cleaned up. Nothing but pure, clean, content. Exactly what you always wished the internet was.

So I spent a day browsing the net – ad-free – and thoroughly happy about it.  But I began to wonder what all the poor agency people were going to do. Surely they are aware of these, right? I mean AdBlocks developer, this one dude, has 2 million customers, and the number is growing.

Hey, Agencies, are you getting this? …Yet? Not only do consumers routinely wish they wouldn’t happen by the product of your full effort, they are now able to affect the medium to destroy you. Or rather, destroy your ancient, irrelevant tactics.

The fact is – interruptive ads should disappear – not because we’ve all installed adblockers, but because banners, popups and other interruptive tactics are patently inauthentic in an interactive environment and the ad industry should have understood this fact a decade ago and spent the last 10 years developing authentic models for advocating a client’s brand.

There are ways to do it – but it means ad agencies will have to reorganize and fundamentally change their skill sets. It means they’ll have to hire entrepreneurial creative teams who understand business processes and manufacturing and fulfillment systems.

Hear this, ad agencies: the simple fact is, your interruptive advertising tactics are fundamentally, critically flawed.  Someday you will indeed have to adapt by developing valuable offerings, well above the slightly amusing ad content you produce today.

In the meantime, it’s lucky for you there are a lot of users who don’t think to go looking for a magical ad blocker. At least not until they hear about it.

But don’t worry, I won’t say anything.