The number one problem with the way companies use social media is that they think of it like broadcast media. They use what’s called “push marketing.” They are trying to push something on you by interrupting what you’re doing with a promotion.

When you’re watching the news, they are interrupting and pushing you to buy pills for erectile dysfunction. When you’re listening to Led Zeppelin on the classic rock station in your car, you’re suddenly berated with a loud man telling you that this is your only chance to buy a car at rock bottom prices. When you’re reading that riveting article in Time magazine about the debt ceiling, you flip the page to an ad pushing you to buy…erectile dysfunction pills again.

You can’t escape it. But social media is a different animal. It's a “pull marketing” platform. That means, you don’t interrupt the regularly scheduled programming; you are the programming.

With social media, you are engaging with people one-on-one with real conversations. If they like what you have to say and decide to follow you, you’ve made a friend, and this gives you an opportunity to learn more about your audience without paying for expensive research.

This will allow you to deliver what your audience wants.


I know you’ve heard this saying, but I mean it in the literal sense. You have to think outside the TV, radio, and mailbox. Social media marketing is not a one-way pipeline to your audience. It’s a community, so as a marketer, you need to think of it more like a dinner party.

Let me explain this dinner party analogy.

You are invited to a friend’s dinner party. The only person you know is the host. You bring a bottle of wine, and prepare yourself for some socializing.

However, you have a mission. You want everyone at this party to know that you sell cars. You pour yourself a glass of wine and approach a couple standing by the fireplace. Of course, you introduce yourself: "Hi, my name is Matt Giovanisci, and I sell cars."

You shake both their hands, but before they have time to introduce themselves, you say, "I’m glad I met you. You seem like the kind of people that enjoy the finer things in life. Let me tell you about this amazing offer. I have a cadillac on my lot that people are lining up out the door waiting to test drive. I want you guys to be the first in line. What’s it gonna take for me to get you in a new cadillac today?"

If you’re not laughing at that ridiculous scenario, you should be. I just walked up to complete strangers and tried to sell them a car without knowing a thing about them. Maybe they just bought a new car yesterday. I don’t know, and I don’t care, I just want to promote myself. Those two people are going to think I’m weird, self-possessed, and crazy — and they would be correct.

That is what traditional broadcast media marketing is.

Now, let’s say I walk up to that same couple and introduce myself. They introduce themselves as well. I ask them a question: “how did you two meet?” They tell me their story, which happens to involve a really nice car. I respond with an anecdote about that type of vehicle, and we start to have a conversation. A real conversation. If everything is smooth, they might ask, “so Matt, what do you do for a living?” Because this is not the internet and instead a dinner party, I begin to explain what I do.

My goal here is not to sell them anything, but just to make them aware of what I’m all about and allow them to dig if they please. Perhaps they say, “oh we’ve been in the market for a car.” Boom, now I would tell them that I’d be glad to help and I might make a sale out of it. But if they don’t ask, they now know who I am and may tell one of their friends that they met this really interesting (and attractive) guy at this dinner party who sells cars. Word of mouth at its best.

That is what social media marketing is all about. It’s about developing relationships and engaging with your audience without trying to constantly sell them something or shove a message down their throats.

The 80/20 rule of social media

Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t promote yourself, but you need to do it sparingly. This is why I loosely follow the 80/20 principle.

Eighty percent of your social media content should be aimed to engage in conversation, delight someone, and/or inform the public. Twenty percent of your social media content can be used for promoting your cause.

No one cares about you, because you don’t care about them. As a traditional marketer, all you care about is the outcome: a sale, a signup, a lead, etc. You are just trying to get your message to the most eyeballs and hope they become a customer.

When you start to care about the people you are reaching out to, it becomes emotional, and we’re emotional creatures.

DOMINATE One Platform

Another mistake that social media marketers make is that they try to put themselves on every online social network. Did you know there are over 200 of them? You can’t be everywhere, and when you spread yourself thin, you will cover nothing.

I encourage marketers to only dominate one platform at a time. Don’t try to rule the world of social media. Pick one and master it, then move on to the next one.


Yet another mistake marketers make is the timeline. Unlike paying for a television ad to reach millions of people, one tweet will not reach that many people right out of the gate. You need to develop a strategy and expect it to take a very long time to build. Building up a following doesn’t happen overnight. Using social media is like selling door-to-door or socializing at an event. You will only reach a handful of people at a time, at first. But you have a chance to make those people really care and become die-hard fans of your cause.

This is especially important for creating awareness towards a cause. I’m sure you’re all familiar with grassroots marketing, and that’s exactly what this is. Social media is a free tool for your grassroots campaign.

I hope that you understand how different social media is from broadcast media. It’s an entirely different marketing mindset, and if you can grasp that concept, you will be successful.