Remember how in elementary school science you learned about the physical laws that ordered the universe? And how, once you knew about the underlying rules of energy and matter, the details of a lot of things just made more sense?
Susan Gunelius has applied the idea to social media marketing. She's asked the question: What are the fundamental laws that underlie everything we do on social media? And how can you understand those laws to better serve your brand?
Here are the laws that Gunelius feels are the building blocks of social media:
1. The Law of Relationships
The most basic element of social media should be obvious from its name. What's the atom, the most essential thing of which social media is made? Social relationships.
In any decision you make, your first consideration should be: How will this affect my relationships? Will it strengthen the ones I already have? Build more of them?
All the other laws of social media marketing are related to this first law.
2. The Law of Listening
Unlike other media, social media is interactive. This what really sets social media apart. It's two-way communication. It makes everyone and their uncle a content creator. This complicates and expands what is possible for social media. Instead of writing a monologue, we must be in dialogue.
One of the defining factors in social media marketing is listening. Listen to what your customers are saying about you. What do they love? What do they hate? Listen to what people are saying about your competitors. If you sell candy bars, what are people saying about candy bars in general?
You customers have a dynamic relationship with your product; it changes over time. You can only know how it is evolving if you listen.
3. The Law of Focus
Social media marketing is relatively new. In the beginning, there were fewer players on the social media marketing scene and so sometimes brands would try to be all things to all people. But as the market place has gotten more crowded, a better strategy is to focus. Find a niche. Find your demographic. Find your unique voice. Focus on these things.
"A highly-focused social media and content marketing strategy intended to build a strong brand has a better chance for success than a broad strategy," writes Gunelius.
It is better to have a strong relationship with the people who are really into your brand, then to have a weak, dilute relationship with a bunch of people who may or may not be your best audience. Which brings us to...
4. The Law of Quality
You want good quality social media relationships. Just like good friends, they are worth their weight in gold. Being focused can help with this: it will help you meet the needs and expectations of your best customers. But you need to invest in good relationships. You can do that by creating good quality content. You can do that by listening. You can do that by interacting with your customers.
"Quality trumps quantity," writes Gunelius. If you have a Twitter following of 1,000 who retweet you and engage with what you have to say, it is worth way more than a following of 10,000 where many of the your followers have you on mute.
5. The Law of Compounding
You know that investing money over time leads to compound interest. You can make interest on the money you made as interest.
Because social media marketing can increase its reach through social sharing, a similar phenomenon exists. Think of it as social compounding. You make good content and share it with your network. Then someone shares it with theirs, and then it turn it gets shared again because of that sharing. When it works, it really, really works.
"This sharing and discussing of your content opens new entry points for search engines like Google to find it in keyword searches," writes Gunelius. "Those entry points could grow to hundreds or thousands of more potential ways for people to find you online."
6. The Law of Patience
This is a law that applies to most things in life, and yet people often don't think it should apply to social media marketing. Social media marketing can reach untold numbers of people, right? And you can communicate with them instantaneously, right? Yes. But you still need to build relationships, and that takes time.
7. The Law of Value
Value is one of the most essential things that you should be providing your customers via social media. What does your content give them that they don't already have? The answer to this question might be something ephemeral: a laugh, maybe. Or it might be concrete: helpful information.
Too many companies believe that only their product must provide value. But in fact their communication should provide value as well.
8. The Law of Acknowledgment
"You wouldn't ignore someone who reaches out to you in person so don't ignore them online," writes Gunelius.
It's all about reciprocity. You write to me, I write to you.
If you think of the basic building block of social, its atom, as it were, as the relationship, then anything that builds relationships is important. Acknowledgement and reciprocity build relationships. People want to feel seen and heard. So watch and listen.
"You can't expect others to share your content and talk about you if you don't do the same for them," writes Gunelius. "So, a portion of the time you spend on social media should be focused on sharing and talking about content published by others."
9. The Law of Accessibility
As we established before, one of the essential aspects of social media is its interactivity. It makes everyone a contributor. So if you act like a traditional publisher and just broadcast your message, you are missing out. Join the fray on your social networks.
"Don't publish your content and then disappear," writes Gunelius. "Be available to your audience." Be part of the conversation. Show up consistently on your social networks. Build your relationships.
(The image was made at Hetemeel.com where you can make Einstein say whatever you want.)