The First Law of Social Media Marketing

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According to Peter Drucker, inventor of the “management by objectives” concept and a pioneer in management education, there’s only one valid business purpose: to create a customer. So how does this translate into social media? Social media strategist James Gilbert of Target Marketing answered this question in the webinar “The 9 Immutable Laws of Social Media Marketing.” This post covers rule #1; the rest will be covered next week.

The first law of social media marketing is very comparable to the reality TV show The Bachelor: it’s all about engagement. The engagement factor creates dialogue, which is critically important to relationships, both in business and in a show in which fame-seeking men and women desperately try to manufacture emotional connections with other fame-seekers who are probably there for “the wrong reasons.”


Just as deep conversation will lead to a contestant receiving the Date Rose, so engagement will lead to trust between customer and company, which leads us to:

Law #1: The deeper the level of engagement, the deeper the customer’s trust and bond with your company.

Nothing happens without engagement, making it the most important social media rule there is. Along with reaching out on your chosen social channel, here are three methods you can try to increase engagement:

  • Tug at their heartstrings, and create emotional connections to brands. The producers of the Bachelor franchise seemingly try to outdo themselves season after season by selecting contestants with increasingly tragic backstories, and though it’s blatant manipulation, it works anyway. (You try to dislike a woman who believes men reject her because she only has one arm.)


  • Tell a Every brand has a story  – don’t undervalue the importance of emphasizing it. If the Bachelor can create coherent story arcs for every contestant, you should be able to create a narrative for your brand.
  • Create drama. This is one option that you should think twice about using. If you do, use sparingly and with caution –bitter Twitter feuds and flipped tables are all very well on reality television, but tend to not play out quite so well in the corporate world. Minor doses of drama make a brand interesting to watch, but make sure you don’t go too far.


 There are eight stages of engagement, which progress rather like a sales funnel:

  1. Brand impression. Someone may have seen your tweets or Facebook posts, and has a general impression of your brand.
  2. Like – casual listener. Willing to follow you on Twitter/Facebook and actively listen to you. This is a crucial time for you to get them to the next level.
  3. Like – engages. Occasionally likes, comments on, and/or retweets your posts.
  4. Super like – engages often. Retweets/comments on many posts, and believes in your brand.
  5. Minor brand advocate – may not be a buyer, but will recommend your brand to others.
  6. Super brand advocate – recommends brand and buys the product as well. With customers like these, you can essentially sit back and let them do peer-to-peer selling for you.

The other two stages are less positive:

  1. Dislike – disgruntled former like that gets offended or decides they no longer like your brand and unfollows you.
  2. Super dislike (engaged dislike) – They not only dislike you, but  also talk down your brand to others. Your goal is to use all the listening tools you have to find out and fix their problem, and move them back to a positive (or less active dislike) stage. These people are like those bitter exes who rejoice in warning the current crop of contestants away from the current Bachelor(ette). It’s much better for them to amicably dislike your brand than to undermine you with  potential customers.

Final memos:

  • Don’t be an info pusher! Give people a chance to engage with the information, rather than bombarding them with it.
  • Put a human face on your brand, and distinguish it from others.
  • People respond to authenticity. Speak in a real voice, and don’t pretend to be something you’re not—another lesson we have learned time and time again from The Bachelor.

We’ll touch on the remaining laws next week, but if you can’t wait, catch Jim Gilbert and “The 9 Immutable Laws of Social Media Marketing” in the on-demand webinar. No rose necessary.