Direct Marketing Article
Three Rules of Social Media Marketing for
Businesses Large and Small
By Maurice A. Ramirez
Social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube have put the power of
the media in hands of the average citizen. Entrepreneurs, information
marketers, and college students have learned that they can be the media for
audiences both large and small. They have also learned that the nightly news
and the traditional print media will share their stories. This shift in the
"power of the press" carries with it three rules of social media marketing
for businesses large and small. These three rules are:
ē Silence is not golden...itís guilty.
ē The first story told is the story most retold...and the story most
ē Buzz is the bomb...it can propel you to the top, or blow up in your face.
Silence is Not Golden...Itís Guilty
In high school science, we learn that nature abhors a vacuum. Well nowhere
is this truer than on the Internet. If a business fails to comment on an
event, good or bad, then the social media will rush in to fill the void
around the corporate brand. Itís very simple. The construction of search
engines and social media is such that there will never be silence associated
with any brand.
Whether the brand is the iPhone, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Disney, Universal
Studios, or an unknown convenient store on the corner of Smalltown, USA; if
something happens, somebody must comment. That is the nature of the Internet
and the social media in the 21st century. With the advent of internet
enabled cell phones, YouTube enabled smart phones, text messaging and
location enabled Twitter, everybody is not just a news reporter; they are a
video historian. Watch the evening news in any market, anywhere in the
world, and you will see YouTube video broadcast about a news event that has
happened that day. Nothing is more powerful than eyewitness testimony, both
in a court of law and on the six oíclock news.
It is important to remember that is not the occasional user of the social
media who is making these reports; it is the regular blogger, the regular
Twitter broadcaster, and the regular YouTube poster, who is making these
reports. They have followers and their followers have followers. The average
reach of these individuals is over 20,000, and their audience is reliable.
This means that corporations cannot just broadcast a message in the social
media when something happens, corporations must have a presence 24/7. The
social media presence of a corporation must be part of an ongoing plan and
deliberate social media optimization process that ensures that the
corporation has an audience, and that the corporate audience is larger than
that of any client or customer who may come through their door.
The First Story Told is the Story Most Retold and the Story Most Believed
The social media is a cultural phenomenon based on a conglomerate of social
norms and behaviors that span age groups and demographics. And as a result,
the rules are difficult for many entrepreneurs and executives to negotiate.
But one of the rules that is constant across all social media platforms is
the first story told is the first story believed. Further, in the social
media, the first story about a major event, positive or negative, will be
retold, retransmitted and shared among social media users. The first story
told in the social media will be converted to email and resent. The first
story told is also the most likely story to make the transition to
traditional media, in other words, it will become news. Because of this, it
is not enough to respond when a message appears on one of the popular social
media platforms, such as Facebook for Twitter. Instead, when an event
occurs, a business must have a prepared statement ready to transmit
immediately through an established social media optimization program to
ensure that the corporate message is first story told. Ideally, this
corporate message will even precede those messages, blogs, tweets, and
YouTube postings that may be coming from those customers actually involved
as participants in the event.
And donít believe for a second that blocking cell phone communications,
disconnecting Wi-Fi, shutting down Internet or in some other fashion,
disrupting access to the social media will delay negative social media
messages. This has been tried by major governments around the world and in
every instance, not only has it in fact accelerated the rate that these
messages have been transmitted, but increased the negative sentiment
attached to the event. Ironically such attempts to block social media
messages actually expanded the reach of every message that the perpetrators
attempted to block.
The great Vince Lombardi once said, "the best defense is a strong offense."
In the social media, nothing could be more true. The only way to counter a
negative message is to send your positive message, even before the first
negative message can be transmitted.
Buzz is the Bomb...It Can Propel You to the Top, or Blow Up in Your Face
W.C. Fields once said, "I donít care what you say about me, so long as you
spell my name correctly." In the social media, W.C. Fieldsí advice would be
disastrous. What is said absolutely matters. The sentiment surrounding the
brand determines the degree of influence that a message has and it
determines the action taken by those who receive the message. The goal of
all marketing is to influence potential clients and potential customers to
make a purchase. In the social media, that means that they must be
influenced to reach for the mouse, reach for the credit card, reach for
their wallet and make the purchase.
Buzz is the bomb. A positive buzz, means that there is positive message
activity around your brand. There is positive buzz when people are sending
your message to their friends, their friends are sending your to other
friends and it all influences someone to make that positive buy decision.
If the sentiment surrounding your message is negative, buzz can blow up in
your face. Research shows that a negative message will be sent on four times
more frequently than a positive message, thus doing four times the damage,
influencing four times as many people not to buy.
W.C. Fields was wrong, it is not good enough that your name is spelled
correctly, something good must be said as well. The easiest way to ensure
that something good is said, influence those who influence others to say
something good about you. Again, this is done by having a constant positive
presence in the social media, even before anything noteworthy happens at
your company, at your place of business, in your brand.
There are three rules of social media marketing for businesses large and
small. Turn on the news any night and you will see big business that have
failed to follow these three simple rules. Whether it is a cruise ship with
a passenger falling overboard and 124,000 tweets telling the story of how
they left him behind, or it is a major amusement park with the most
anticipated themed ride in a decade breaking down, trapping riders for 45
minutes and generating 50 YouTube uploads. To succeed in the social media
remember: Silence is not golden, businesses must be in the social media
early, regularly, and constantly. The first story told is the first story
retold. To be the one telling your story, influencing others to retell your
story, businesses must take ownership of that message, or someone else will
fill the void and tell your story for you from their perspective. And
finally, buzz is the bomb. That buzz must be positive, so that the bomb does
not blow up in your face.
About the Author:
Dr. Maurice A. Ramirez is founder of the consulting firm High Alert, LLC. He
is a renowned speaker on the importance of social networking and has
presented to national organizations. As a consultant, Dr. Ramirez assists
companies to align business continuity plans with personnel and customer
behavior during adversity. Dr. Ramirez is founding chairperson of the
American Board of Disaster Medicine and a Senior Physician-Federal Medical
Officer. Please visit