10 Things Seth Godin Taught Me about Social Media Marketing


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With Seth Godin about to appear on stage in Orange County in just a few weeks time, there is a buzz around here about what new insights he will provide to us in 2011.  And the event, in line with what Seth preaches about holding BIG events, is set to be HUGE – he will be speaking at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, part of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, a location that is host to the likes of Natalie Cole and the Vienna Philharmonic.  In my eyes, but more importantly the eyes of the event organizer and friend Bryan Elliott, Seth Godin deserves to be on a similar stage.  And Bryan made it happen.  The greater Orange County community made it happen.  We are all making it happen!

From a social media perspective, I have found a lot of great takeaways from Seth.  The funny thing is that he never blogs or writes specifically about social media marketing, but his thoughts are so applicable to the situations that many of us social media practitioners face on a daily basis.

What have I learned fromSeth Godin’s blog posts which, like Twitter, are so short and concise yet full of such deep insight?  I went through my favorite blog posts from Seth over the last 12 months and chose those which I felt were gems in this respect.

If you live in Southern California and are looking for a free ticket to see Seth, keep reading for a chance to win

1.) Social Media and Experimentation

Sure, go ahead and test what’s testable. But the real victories come when you have the guts to launch the untestable. – A Culture of Testing

You can do all of the planning you want in social media, but the problem is that you are dealing with people here and hopefully trying to socialize with them.  And the social landscape changes with every tweet.  Without some experimenting and doing things untestable you might not achieve a real victory.

2.) Building Your Tribe (Through Social Media)

The magic of the tribe is that you can build it incrementally, that day by day you can earn the asset that will allow you to bring your work to people who want it. Or you can skip that and wait to get picked. Picked to be on Oprah or American Idol or at the cash register at Borders.

Getting picked is great. Building a tribe is reliable, it’s hard work and it’s worth doing. – No Knight, No Shining Armor

Anyone who has read the classic Seth Godin book Tribes understands the potential for social media to help provide the infrastructure to create a tribe, and that ideally community managers are building “tribes” of fans.  While Seth’s quote was aimed at authors who wanted to get rich quick, his point is similar to what I wrote about in Why Social Media for Business is Like a Marathon.  Building a tribe in social media will take time, but it can help you create a true platform of fans that will reward you over the weeks, months, and even years.

3.) Content is the New Search Engine Optimization

I resist the temptation to optimize this blog for traffic and yield. I’d rather force myself to improve it by having the guts to write better posts instead. – The Non-Optimized Life

Too many people focus on SEO without focusing on content marketing.  If social media is the new SEO, your content is what should separate you from your competition.

4.) Embrace Social Media and Become a Leader, Not a Follower

Every brand, every organization and every individual is either running away from something or running toward something (or working hard to stand still).

Are you chasing or being chased? Are you leading or following? Are you fleeing or climbing? – Running Away vs. Running Toward

Almost every social media strategy consulting client I work with will be a pioneer in their industry in social media if they implement according to plan.  Why?  Because most of the competition is either fleeing from social media or doing the bare minimum to try to show that they are “relevant.”  Guess what competition?  It’s not working!

5.) Engage with Your Customers, and You Shall Increase Your Engagement

The customers you fire and those you pay attention to all send signals to the rest of the group. – Train Your Customers

In social media, you truly get what you deserve.  Treat your customers right and they will spread thanks and praises about you through their tweets and comments.  Ignore them when they try to engage with you and that message will be sent to all of their tribes.  Do something insensitive and, well, just ask Kenneth Cole what happened.

6.) Don’t Forget about the “Social” in Social Media

The experience I have with you as a customer or a friend is far more important than a few random bits flying by on the screen. The incredible surplus of digital data means that human actions, generosity and sacrifice are more important than they ever were before. – The Blizzard of Noise (and the Good News)

We are spending more and more time on the Internet and in social media, so our world is becoming increasingly digital.  But guess what?  You can only win true fans for your business by being truly social and human.  The fact that the world is more and more digital means that the generosity and caring of your company will be seen all the more clearly by your fans.

7.) Let Others Broadcast Your Message for You

Anil Dash has discovered that having ten times as many Twitter followers generates approximately zero times as much value.

The goal shouldn’t be to have a lot of people to yell at, the goal probably should be to have a lot of people who choose to listen. Don’t need a bullhorn for that. – Bullhorns are Overrated

Early on in my Twitter history, I used to retweet my new blog posts several times over the course of a few days a la Guy Kawasaki.  But you know what?  I was taking the bullhorn approach.  Instead, I tried to concentrate on writing better content, and if they like it they will come.  I limited myself to tweet about my new blog posts only once (unless I need to mention people mentioned in the tweet, in which case I’ll do it twice or so), and I have found my ReTweet numbers growing and growing.  If you are resourcesful in your content and truly engaging with your fans, you don’t need more Twitter followers – you need more listeners.  Let others ReTweet your message for you.

8.) You Have to Be Bigger Than Your Brand in Social Media

Great brands represent something bigger than themselves. You can create this accidentally if you’re lucky, but you can create it on purpose if you try. – Represent

If you only talk about yourself in social media no one is listening.  Social media was made for people, not brands.  More importantly, if you’re trying to reach out to others and build a tribe for your brand in social media, you need to be bigger than your own company.  You need to represent your industry, a lifestyle, a solution to a problem.  Become a resource to others in social media, and your brand will be rewarded handsomely.  Another reason why everyone’s content is king in social media.

9.) Use the Social Media Tools at Your Disposal and Stop Looking for New Ones

The hard work that we have to do is to not use Twitter and Facebook to entertain ourselves and hide from the art. And the hard work that we have to do is not go to yet another meeting with yet another boring boss who’s going to have yet another boring project for us to do.

But the hard work – and we’re seeing it over and over again in every field I can imagine, not including bringing vaccines to the developing world – the hard work is to look at the status quo and say, “Well, they built all these tools for me. They built all this leverage for me, and it’s not here to entertain me, it’s here to permit me to put myself at risk, to maybe have someone look me in the eye and say, ‘You’re not good enough to do that.'” That’s really hard.

And then what we have to do as trainers or as managers or as people who can spread ideas is somehow put in front of people that what we need them to do is to solve interesting problems. And what we need them to do is lead. And then if all they’re prepared to do is make widgets, we have a long slog ahead of us. But if we’re wiling to race to the top and do work that matters, my bet is that a few of us will do it often enough to actually make change. – Transcript of the First Linchpin Session

The question that I always get asked as social media keynote speaker is, “What’s the latest and greatest social media tool?”  My answer is that all of the tools that you need, primarily WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube are there for you to use at your disposal.  Are you using them to the maximum?  More importantly, are you engaging with your fans as if they were human beings instead of just numbers?  Ladies and gentlemen, we are blessed with a platform (= social media) that allows businesses and professionals to connect their brands and themselves in a way and on a scale that just wasn’t possible for the 99.99% of the 2.3 million years of human history.  These tools are there for your disposal.  Don’t waste them: Do something great with them!

10.) Use Social Media to Build Your Own Unique Tribe, 10 People at a Time

Instead of speed dating your way to interruption, instead of yelling at strangers all day trying to make a living, coordinating a tribe of 1,000 requires patience, consistency and a focus on long-term relationships and life time value. You don’t find customers for your products. You find products for your customers. – First Organize 1,000

This is a blog post that I have actually used when I speak about social media, specifically the power of LinkedIn.  You can see a video of it here, but essentially every entrepreneur or small business owner should aim at building out a social media fan base of 1,000 fans.  Seth speaks brilliantly about the power of having a tribe of 1,000 true fans and what influence it can bring.  I tell people that you should multiply your age by 10 and that is how many LinkedIn connections you should have.  Start from there, and build out your fan base through leading, providing value, engaging, and doing all of the other great things that you can do for free through social media with the only investment being your own sweat equity.

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I truly enjoyed researching through Seth’s old blog posts and revealing to you how they resonate with me.  Any other of his blog posts that you particularly recommend to better understand social media?  Which was your favorite?

Republished with author's permission from original post.


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