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Keep the Social in Social Media Marketing

Social Media Marketing Madness Cartoon by HubSpot

Social Media Marketing Madness Cartoon by HubSpot

Social Media is hot!

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you probably are familiar with the benefits of permission based marketing and the benefits of using social media to reach the millions of communitites that have formed as a result of social networks, blogs, social bookmarks etc. And as the phenomenon has grown and reached greater ad greater adoption by the mainstream of society, it has gained more attention through traditional media. But like all good things, there are those who would abuse it and misuse it. Indeed, recently there seems to be an invasion by people who want to market to our online community using traditional methods.

But Some Users are Not!

They don’t blog or comment, so they aren’t trying to be trusted advisers, but they are trying to use the space for advertising and direct mail by creating large numbers of followers or “friends” and then spamming them with commercial messages though their in-boxes or their twitter API.

I recently received a follow on twitter from a real estate broker who was following 900 people, had 300 followers, and had not made one update. That indicated to me that the person was not an active member of any community that I wanted to belong to. It also indicated that his followers were not really following him, but had an auto-follow setting that increased his following without anyone caring that they were part of his “community”

So why do I care?

Because social media is the epitome of word of mouth advertising. A place where professionals can provide information to their communities, demonstrating their value to consumers rather than “selling” them on the product or service they offer. If it becomes a breeding ground for advertising and interuptive  marketing instead of permission based marketing, the waters become fouled for all of us, and our communities will find other places to talk and share and learn.

In a recent post, Seth Godin parsed it wonderfully;

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Marketers have spammed, lied, deceived, cluttered and ripped us off for so long, we’re sick of it.

Which means that even if you have a really good reason, no, you can’t call me on the phone. Which means that even if it’s really important, no, I’m not going to read the instructions. Which means that god forbid you try to email me something I didn’t ask for… you’re trashed. It’s so fashionable to be skeptical now that no one believes you if you attempt to do something for the right reasons.

Selfish short-sighted marketers ruined it for all of us. The only way out, I think, is for a few marketers to so  overwhelm the market with long-term, generous marketing that we have no choice but to start paying attention again.

And that my friends and readers is the challenge we have before us. To provide high quality and high quantity content for our communities and tribes , not just pictures of listings, or direct mail newsletters through our facebook and twitter accounts, but useful information and links to great articles and videos and photos that we are interested in and would share with a fiend we didn’t want to sell anything to. Then and only then will we reconnect with the consumer as someone they choose to do business with because they are pre-disposed to trust us – and because we have earned that trust.

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Written By

Bill is an unusual blend of Old & New - The CEO Century 21 Advantage Gold (Philadelphia's Largest Century 21 company and BuzzBuilderz (a Social Media Marketing Company), He is a Ninja CEO, blending the Web 1 and 2.0 world together in a fashion that stretches the fabric of the universe. You can follow him on twitter @Billlublin or Facebook or LinkedIn.



  1. Chris Shouse

    April 22, 2009 at 11:02 am

    You are so right Bill and I could not have said it better but have been feeling this way for quite awhile. Thank you

  2. Teresa Boardman

    April 22, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    It even works for the anti social. Although I am noticing that when I say Bite me to my facebook friends some of them leave me. Oh well.

  3. Matthew Hardy

    April 22, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    > It’s so fashionable to be skeptical now that no one believes you if you attempt to do something for the right reasons.

    Really astute. I’ve been trying to find just the right words to express this sentiment. That nailed it.

  4. Steve Krzysiak

    April 22, 2009 at 4:28 pm

    Greetings from the Windy City,

    I agree with this completely. I focused on this in a blog recently at: check it out to see my thoughts on it, but we are on the same page.

    I am sick of people using social media as if it were a billboard. Are people really that naive?

    Good write up and I share your grief!

  5. Bill Lublin

    April 23, 2009 at 9:03 am

    Chris: Thank you so much for the kind words

    Teresa: Those that leave on facebook when you offer to bite them are obviously missing social skills – and a great opportunity 🙂

    Matthew: Sometimes the reward for doing right things is just having done them 😉
    Thanks so much for your input though I’m pleased if I echoed your sentiments.

    Steve; Good to hear from the Windy City – couldn;t check the article out throught he link however- it took me to a page that asked me to login – a task I was not equal to 😉

  6. Steve Krzysiak

    April 23, 2009 at 9:07 am

    Just double checked it, it’s live and available to the public, so I’m not sure what is going on. Thanks for the heads up though.

  7. Myrtle Beach Golfer

    April 23, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Love the cartoon…and the article – so true! The beauty of social media is that it’s real people that aren’t trying to market to others…just genuinely sharing their experiences. I hate people who try to fake that.

  8. Hector G. Diaz

    April 25, 2009 at 3:52 am

    Very valuable insight Bill, thanks!

  9. Ken Montville - The MD Suburbs of DC

    April 25, 2009 at 7:31 am

    And then there are those you follow on Twitter because you think they may have something interesting to say and/or contribute but don’t reciprocate by following you back regardless of the number of updates and/or “non-commercial” nature of the updates. In other words, follwees (is there such a word? why not?) who just like to accumulate followers and/or just don’t check.

    Another phenom on Twitter and Facebook is the huge number of other real estate professionals that seem to find me and want to follow/be followed and/or be friends. I am guilty of this as well although I try to keep it to people I find can contribute something to my knowledgebase vs some long shot chance at a referral.

    Why I would want to connect with a thousand other Realtors in the social media space is beyond me. Maybe I just haven’t figured it out yet.

    Of course, my own feelings get hurt when I’m not followed back or friended so I can relate. I try not to abuse and I will at least engage until they wear out their welcome with masssive commercial appeals (i.e., spam)

    Too much coffee this morning. Can you tell?

  10. Mark Eckenrode

    May 7, 2009 at 10:23 am

    bill, damn fine post. you touched on some sore points with me around marketing. the short of it: most folks have no business whatsoever trying to market something (nevermind the fact that the product may not even be worthy) and when they do, they hurt everyone.

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