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Is Social Media Marketing a Scam?

That’s an adaptation of a question I responded to the other day on LinkedIn.

The other answers included comments that the questioner had definitely been scammed, that social marketing was a fickle opportunity and that it was ‘a bottle of snake oil’.

Isn’t diversity great..?

But here’s the thing:

The more I study Social Media Marketing the more I realise that it’s thousands of years old.

It’s no different from being the best baker or best butcher in the village. The one that everyone trusts and goes to.

The difference is that the village is now a global village and the community is now several hundred million people and growing rapidly.

Instead of chatting to people, and passing on recommendations (and gossip) in the village square, we do it on Facebook.

The trigger for Social Media Marketing: the Internet became social

What makes it a buzzword now is that it’s coming off the back of an Internet that for a long time really only enabled one way communication.

That made marketing to people over the Internet no different from marketing on TV, radio or the press.

Basically you had to shout louder or more often than your competition to get people’s attention.

Once email became mainstream, marketers everywhere saw it as a super cheap alternative to the Direct Mail campaigns that used to clog up our mailboxes. Junk mail became junk email.

And we were pummelled with so much marketing that we tuned it out.

Then along came blogs and social networking, bookmarking and media sites. These enabled two-way communication on the Internet – just like in the real world.

Which gave social media marketing it’s opening.

Now, not only can we avoid people who shout too loudly or too often (social media spammers), but we can diss them to others. Not good for the traditional shout-louder-and-more-often marketing approach.

Word of mouth and recommendations now work on the Internet even more effectively than they do in the real world.

When something goes viral it does so at warp speed to hundreds of millions of people.

Create a warm market

The thing is, though, marketers have always known that marketing to a warm market was way more cost-effective than to a cold one. So a lot of Internet Marketers’ attentions got focused on building a list.

And here’s the thing: when you build and maintain an email list you’re doing Social Network Marketing.

You’re building trust and establishing credibility with a bunch of people, which makes them more likely to buy from you.

That’s all Social Network Marketing is.

So why all the fuss about Social Network Marketing on the Internet now?

Because the new technologies have provided people with an alternative way to develop a warm market.

In fact, I foresee email marketing declining as a means of building the relationship.

I think it will be used for specific jobs – such as delivering an eCourse – and that blogs and the social networking sites will replace email as the way marketers build their warm market.

So what are some of my experiences with social network marketing?

It takes time. It takes work (a lot at the outset). It doesn’t run on autopilot. It doesn’t cost money – well not much, anyway, and it’s certainly dirt-cheap compared to Adwords.

But I firmly believe that it’s the best way to build a sustainable long-term business online. One that will bring increasing returns in future years.

Update: 1 May, 2012:

In the article above I said that I thought email would decline as a means of building a warm market. I was wrong!

Social media marketing is an effective way of building a warm market, but email marketing is more personal if you use it correctly. In my experience it’s just as effective as it always was, and it will remain so.

Martin Malden.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • andrew 26 June, 2008, 3:57 am

    I have noticed it working I use myspace and http://www.spotabusiness.com because they are both free and spotabusiness lets you do a little more but also gives you a yellowpages type of feel attracting more customers

  • WealthyDragon 26 June, 2008, 7:49 am

    Thanks Andrew,

    I’m glad you’re getting results from it!

    Cheers,

    Martin.

  • Alex 28 June, 2008, 10:18 am

    I have found that viral marketing is extremely important in social network marketing, because no matter how much you proactively do to market your business, you still need people to talk about it themselves and spread the word if you really want to make out-of-control profits. Thanks for the excellent information here. I also believe social network marketing is among the best ways to make money online now and in the future.

  • Jason DeMars 19 July, 2008, 4:26 am

    The one thing that I have found that is a breath of fresh air to people is when you provide rock solid content for free to benefit others attracts people to you through your groups, etc.
    Its true, many people use social networks to spam, but it will quickly be ignored and weeded out. Good solid content will win in the long run and a great deal of money will be made when you give away your best stuff for free. Sounds counter intuitive, but it isn’t.

  • WealthyDragon 19 July, 2008, 8:46 am

    Hi Jason,

    I totally agree. Providing good solid content is what makes not only social marketing work, but article marketing and forum marketing as well.

    That’s a nice blog you have there.

    Cheers,

    Martin.

  • Mike Davies 21 August, 2008, 11:49 am

    I haven’t put as much effort as I should have into social marketing (via My Space, Facebook or even LinkedIn) but it really hit home earlier this morning when watching one of Jeff Johnson’s latest 4 part videos –

    But, the one thing that is of critical importance, in my view, is that it’s not just traffic you’re after, it has to be relevant or targetted traffic. And that was what put me off the social networks, as there was too much left to chance. Even the so-called relevant groups seem to be mostly populated by time-wasters or spammers.

    Jeff’s approach made me re-think. If you have the time, take a look at his video and see if you agree.

  • WealthyDragon 22 August, 2008, 2:16 pm

    Thanks Mike,

    I agree that a lot of the initial traffic from social networks is bounce traffic but, despite that, you’re gradually expanding your online footprint all the time you’re working on the social networks. That, ultimately, gets you more search traffic – which is much more targetted.

    If you’re working on social sites that are focused on your niche then, of course, you can get targetted traffic directly from them.

    Cheers,

    Martin.

  • weng 4 November, 2008, 1:30 am

    Targeted traffic is very important to gain sales in our websites. So email marketing is one way to get those traffic. You just need a constant flux of loyal followers (your list) so that you can gain as much targeted traffic as you can. Commenting on forums like your own niche will help as well. Nice info though.

    weng´s last blog post..Republican VP Candidate Sarah Palin $150,000 Clothing Expenses

  • WealthyDragon 4 November, 2008, 11:13 am

    Thanks Weng,

    The holy grail of targetted traffic – if only there was a silver bullet to get that one!

    I do agree with the power of a list – but to get a list you still need to get targetted visitors to your website so they can sign up.

    Glad you found it useful,

    Cheers,

    Martin.

  • 123bargains 17 November, 2008, 8:33 am

    Great post. It may take a long time, but once you have interested people following either by social networks or email, you can have some good traffic.

    123bargains´s last blog post..Gucci Womens Oversized Sunglasses – $ 105.99 at (Overstock.com)

  • WealthyDragon 17 November, 2008, 11:10 am

    Thanks 123 – glad you found it useful,

    Cheers,

    Martin.

  • Josh the Business Plan Guy 29 January, 2009, 6:53 am

    Almost anything will work if you keep at it long enough. I have no gripe with social marketing. It just seems very time consuming to me. Maybe if I really took it to heart and learned how to do it right it might work a bit better, eh?

    • WealthyDragon 29 January, 2009, 7:21 am

      Josh, hi,

      Yep – sticking at it definitely helps!

      Cheers,

      Martin.

  • maryann sumaraga 10 February, 2009, 4:31 pm

    This is great stuff, thanks for sharing. Social networking seems to be the way…but I do agree it takes alot of work!

    • WealthyDragon 10 February, 2009, 5:22 pm

      Thanks Maryann,

      I see your blog’s very new – good luck with getting it going!

      Cheers,

      Martin.

  • maryann sumaraga 13 February, 2009, 12:53 pm

    yeah I am new to it all, I’m in the beginning stages. Thanks

    maryann sumaraga´s last blog post..Real Estate Home Loan Groveland Ca-How do you trust a Loan Officer

    • WealthyDragon 13 February, 2009, 2:11 pm

      Maryann, hi,

      That last post of yours on trusting a loan officer is excellent.

      Cheers,

      Martin.

  • Master 22 April, 2009, 11:00 am

    Providing good solid content is what makes not only social marketing work, but article marketing and forum marketing as well.

    That’s a nice blog you have there.

    • WealthyDragon 22 April, 2009, 12:25 pm

      Yep – couldn’t agree more! 🙂

      Thanks for your kind comment on the blog,

      Cheers,

      Martin.

  • Tom 8 May, 2009, 11:17 pm

    I have built my business around social networking for the last 10 years…this is a very interesting read.

    Tom´s last blog post..Baltimore Mortgage Rates!

    • WealthyDragon 9 May, 2009, 8:57 am

      Hi Tom,

      Glad you found it useful,

      Cheers,

      Martin.

  • Nick Goraczkowski 3 June, 2009, 4:12 am

    I’m learning about the social marketing a bit more every day. I think that like anything else, if you stay the course – you can see the results.

    i think that it is a lot like the 3 foot rule – It only expands your 3 feet!

    • WealthyDragon 3 June, 2009, 12:31 pm

      Nick, hi,

      Reminds me of an expression I saw recently:

      “It’s OK to be the Tortoise, as long as you stay the course”

      Cheers,

      Martin.

  • TomT. 20 July, 2009, 10:49 am

    Great article, I can’t agree more with your thoughts. I am new to developing my social marketing skills, the more I am learning the more I believe this to be the best and most successful way to building a business on line. Thanks for the great article.
    .-= TomT.´s last blog ..Seattle Home Mortgage – How much is too much?? =-.

  • Itaz 2 September, 2009, 8:17 pm

    I think its a lot diificult to weed out the nonsense from the social networking on the Net. There is just so much re-hashed stuff, that the likelihood of rubbishing even genuine stuff for fake exists. Spammers are getting just so much more devious. And Plagiarists are having a field-day.
    Marketing a good product has become more difficult as there is so much suspicion surrounding your sales pitch

    • WealthyDragon 3 September, 2009, 7:16 am

      I agree…

      Darren Rowse has covered the question of trust recently on Problogger – here’s one that’s worth reading: Power of Trust. It links to others as well.

      Cheers,

      Martin.

  • BS Motoring 17 September, 2009, 8:44 pm

    We are in the business of car and bike reviews and we have found social marketing a tool to get instant feedback for our products from the community we have built through this social networking.

    • WealthyDragon 17 September, 2009, 10:16 pm

      Great – glad it’s working for you!

      Cheers,

      Martin.

  • Omrah 25 September, 2009, 10:49 pm

    Ultimately what is required is you get genuine customers from the marketing tool you employ. Social marketing may result in some genuine customers for sure, but the process is so tedious and time-consuming, it can be counter-productive

    • WealthyDragon 26 September, 2009, 10:29 am

      Yes – it can be time consuming, but then so is anything when you first get it going.

      The trick is to find a few sites that fit with your target audience and work those. Trying to work too many social sites will drive you crazy.

      I’m currently active in 3 sites and that works for me, both in my time investment and in the results I’m getting.

      Cheers,

      Martin.

  • Justin Herring 26 September, 2009, 3:15 am

    I just started using social media marketing and it seems to work fairly well. I know some colleagues who only use it and have success. I don’t think it is snake oil, but just like anything else in the beginning it takes take a good amount of work.

    Thanks for the great article.

    • WealthyDragon 26 September, 2009, 10:26 am

      You’re welcome and good luck with your social marketing efforts!

      Cheers,

      Martin.

  • Sadekya 20 October, 2009, 9:14 pm

    Social Media Marketing is in a way, investing in people. A company which does not have the time or would not wish to put in the effort, is not dealing with people anyway.

  • theska 27 October, 2009, 9:14 pm

    Excellent! glad it’s working for you! Great job
    .-= theska´s last blog ..Classical Guitar Youtube – Ana Vidovic =-.

  • Jim Johnson 1 November, 2009, 12:41 pm

    Well it works and that’s all you need to say. Thank you from the how to stuff. I will continue to learn. Everett-Mortgage-on-Line

    • Martin 1 November, 2009, 3:48 pm

      You’re welcome, Jim, and thanks for opting in for the free reports!

      Cheers,

      Martin.

  • Matt 6 November, 2009, 12:18 pm

    I think some of the reason that people think social networking doesn’t work is that we see too many people that appear to use it exclusively for self-promotion. I think when the message appears more genuine and less like an ad it works better.
    -Matt San Clemente Mortgage

  • Kevin Hayes 16 December, 2009, 4:20 am

    I recently jumped into the pool to promote my business along with realtor business as well. i have not fully got everything implememted but I do have a plan and am expecting great results soon to come.

    South Carolina mortgage