Ethical social media marketing

I am starting my ethical marketing series with Social Media Marketing.

Fresh off Hubspot’s INBOUND 2015 (I attended as a vendor) I have a whole host of new inbound marketers (of which I am one), SEO, Digital Marketing and PR agencies now following me.   We can all learn from each other so in turn I follow them back.  What does one immediately learn from these types of social media accounts:  The glaring obvious.

 Generally they are completely automated (or as I like to call it “roboted”) and/or only posting promotional posts to sell themselves and their product.  I have no problem with this except in one instance: That is ALL that is being posted.  LOOK AT ME! LOOK WHAT I AM SELLING.  Sir, where are your manners? If you are seated at a dinner party isn’t it only polite to recognize the person to your right and to your left? Do you launch into a diatribe about the horrors contained in hot dogs?  Of course not.  You exchange niceties to find a bit of common ground from which to build polite conversation. This puts both parties at ease and sets the evening off to a brilliant start.  It also happens to make you both more receptive to further conversation as the evening goes on.  Marketing is not a monologue. It is an ongoing exchange, ideally of your product and services for the consumers’ dollars. Treat your consumer with a little respect.


Feelings, nothing more than feelings

 Just like you, I am a real person with feelings, dollars to spend, a mind that wants to learn and I also want a very basic human need met: I want to matter. Humans need to feel like individuals and not a face in the crowd, a mere warm bodied statistic.  Look at all the many ways people do things to themselves to set them apart from the person next to them. Choice of hairstyle and color, belief system, home decor, clothing, tattoos and competition. Uniforms are worn in schools to discourage this and focus on one thing. LEARNING. Eliminate individual expression and the game changes.  Robots don’t have feelings so why are they marketing to humans who are full of feelings? Don’t we base many purchases on some emotion? Sales techniques are problem solvers or dream makers and dreams indeed are emotion based.


Social media monster makers

Back to the topic of the evils of exclusively using automation. The real issue of marketing automation is how insignificant it makes the consumer feel.  Sure it is absolutely efficient but how effective is it in making your customer feel special?  The other key here being the additional obvious factor which social media has fed: people can be self-obsessed. It is human nature to be at least a little ego-centric. Why not?  If a company does just do a little bit to feed that ego in the form of hearing them and somehow recognizing them the company will be rewarded tenfold.


The dreaded email campaign

I detest email campaigns. I and the other 1257 people you’re sending it to all do. I detest going to any and every website only to instantly be accosted by a popup asking for my email.  Let me make my purchase and if I like it I will ask to be included at a later date. Until I know I like your business I am not interested in being marketed to AT ALL.  In fact that instant email I am sent will cause you to be blocked from me forevermore.  Where is the good marketing tactic in that? Automating an email to my twitter when I follow you that asks me to follow you on Facebook or buy your new eBook? That will get you instantly unfollowed. Again, not a good marketing tactic.


The rise of ethical marketing


I do market businesses professionally but I practice what I call ethical marketing. Yes it takes more time but it allows the business to connect with its consumers because that’s who they are selling to. Let me explain (and hope it catches on to other businesses and agencies).

 How to temper the balance of promoting a business (or in the agency view in my case, the client) and personally engaging with the following of the business?

 The answer is not fully automated in any way, shape or form.  Strike a balance between informing the consumer (with or without automation and inbound marketing which are proven to be effective)  and additionally having someone in your organization or your marketing agency take time several times per week to bring some humanization to the process.  Look at what your followers are engaging with, what they are posting themselves and take a moment to give a real human experience of making them feel heard:

 -Ted just bought a new laptop and is talking about Windows 10.  His comments about that are real and valuable. Tell him your experience or ask him more about it. People love to talk about themselves. There’s that ego thing again.

- Jenny just had a baby and is posting at 3 am that she can’t sleep even though the baby is asleep. What is her following suggesting to her? Why not tell her malted milk powder helped you when you had your late night sleep problems?

- Eugene is proudly showing off his newly planted squash.  Congratulate him and tell him your favorite way to eat zucchini - even link the recipe.

-Jonathan is showing off his newly waxed hot rod.  This is an ego waiting to be stroked. Showing a little admiration or envy will make his day.

Under no circumstance do you address the personal posting in such a manner that promotes your product or service. Remember the dinner party story above. This is a polite human exchange. They very likely can see what you and your business is about when they look to see who is interacting with them on a genuine level. Just look at a handful of your followers postings as a way of looking outside of a window to see what’s going on in your company’s world of followers.  Never forget you are a human selling to another human. It’s what separates us from the robots and the animals.