Ch1 - Social Basics

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Social Media Marketing Primer

Chapter 1: The Basics for Having Fun, Finding Work, Working Better


Welcome to the Social Media Marketing Primer. This is chapter one of what will probably about 16 chapters, split into two parts – Part 1 is Basic Tools and Skills, and Part 2 is slated to be Strategy.

If you’ve come across this material on its own – it has a home; two homes really – one is a site where you can download copies of the chapters or read them online, at

The other is a LinkedIn Group, Social Media Marketing Café, where you can discuss the material and ask questions:


My name is Todd Kelsey, and I’m the author of these chapters. Here’s a picture of one of the things I like to do when I’m not doing online marketing.

I’ve worked professionally in online marketing for some time now, and I’ve also authored books on related topics. You’re welcome to look me up on LinkedIn, and you’re also welcome to invite me to connect:

The purpose of these chapters is to provide a free simple, focused introduction to social media marketing, for interns who may be working at a company or non-profit organization, for students at a University, or for self-paced learners. The approach is the same that I’ve taken in most of the books I’ve written, which is conversational, friendly, with an attempt to make things fun. Currently I’m helping with Marketing Strategy, and I’m also an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Benedictine University in Lisle, IL (

The experiment is to find a way to help people get started with social media marketing, in a way that is fun, and also helps you to find work – through an internship, paid work, volunteer work, freelance work, or any other type of work. So the focus is on skills and approaches that might be immediately useful to a business or non-profit organization. I’m not going to try to cover everything – just the things that I think could be most helpful.

The other goal is to “leave intimidation in the dust”. I used to be intimidated by marketing – and now look at me, I’m a Marketing Strategist, and an Assistant Professor of Marketing! But I remember the intimidation, so part of my approach is to try to encourage any reader who may feel uncertain about the field.

The fact is, that social media marketing has a lot of options – especially in the “tools” area – it has grown rapidly, and there’s a lot of material out there. It can be overwhelming! But it can also be very doable, if you leave intimidation in the dust, by taking incremental steps, trying things out, building confidence.

For example, I had a friend who used to be a journalist, and was looking for career opportunities. I helped to get him started in social media, and one of the first things he ran into was feeling overwhelmed by all the options, including all the articles about all the options. “There are so many tools out there!” he used to say, “how am I ever going to learn all of it?!?”

And the answer is that you don’t need to learn all of it. No one can.

The thing to do is to focus on trying some of the tools and skills out, and going from there.

So I encouraged my friend not to worry about trying to learn everything, but instead to just learn some basics.

So the friend worked with Facebook advertising, learned a bit about Twitter, and he was able to find a local agency that gave him a shot at doing some freelance social media work. The career didn’t develop for him – he had to put effort into it. But a few years later, he’s doing full-time freelance work in social media marketing, and in making Google ads. He was able to leave intimidation in the dust – and I believe he’s also had some fun with it too.


ROI, or Return On Investment, will be one of the themes following you around throughout this book.

But don’t be alarmed.

Actually, do be alarmed – not by the concept of ROI, but by the consequences of not measuring ROI.

In the context of social media marketing, it simply means, when a business, organization or individual is spending money on social media marketing – what is the return on investment?

This is one of the things that has gotten out of control in social media – the lack of measuring what the impact actually is. Social media came along, launched like a rocket, and suddenly every business had to have it.

Businesses became mesmerized, helped along by hype in the media, as well as the hype from agencies that suddenly had a new source of income.

C’mon everyone, let’s do social media!

And in no time at all, everyone was marching in step.

But what’s wrong with this picture?

The problem is that no one really knew how to measure ROI – so people got hired – agencies got hired – but then in some cases, both people and agencies got fired, as businesses and organizations started asking the question:

“Ok, but how is this impacting our revenue?”

Hype: “No, it’s cool man, social media is all about engagement.”

Business: “Allright, what is engagement?”

Hype: “Oh, it’s really cool. You go out on social media, and it’s all about the customer. It’s like customer-centric man, you meet people in multiple touchpoints and engage. It’s awesome.”

Business: “Ok, so how does it make us money?”

Hype: “Yeah, the opportunities are tremendous! You just go out, and like make a Facebook page, and go on Twitter, and YouTube, and everywhere you can. And then you engage people with a positive brand experience.”

Business: “What’s a positive brand experience? Does that elevate purchase intent?”

Hype: “Totally man! Yeah, that’s it. It elevates purchase intent.”

Business: “Ok, cool. So how much revenue did we generate when we paid you to engage our audience and elevate their purchase intent?”

Hype: “Wow, man, that’s feeling kind of black and white. You need to look at the situation holistically. People are spending a lot of time on social media, so that’s where you need to be, man.”

Business: “I see. So people actually make purchases on social media?”

Hype: “Well, um . . . sometimes, I think. But wait, here’s this really interesting infographic that shows all the social networks people spend time on. Isn’t it great?”

Business: “I suppose. So what does ‘social influence’ mean?”

Hype: “Yeah, I almost forgot! It’s totally all about influence. Yeah, go out and identify the influencers. Make sure you have influence. It’s all about influence and the power of Social Referral.”

Business: “You mean word of mouth marketing?”

Hype: “Yeah, totally, word of mouth marketing. Like referring things you like to your peers. Bragging rights, show and tell, look what I’ve got, look what I found.”

Business: “Ok, so how does that translate into actually making money?”

Hype: “Well, some businesses are starting to make money . . . “

So you kind of get the picture.

The bottom line is that regardless of how closely people are tracking the return on investment of social media, it’s here to stay. And it’s also true that Social Media Marketing is a top skill.

According to LinkedIn, it’s the #1 hottest skill that got people hired in 2013.



So all I’m saying is, just like any other skill, social media marketing needs to contribute to a business or organization in a concrete way. So ROI is a really good idea to keep in mind, to think about and learn about.

2B or not 2B? B2B, B2C

One of the great gifts to the world that business has brought, and especially marketing, is acronyms.

I tend to start drowning when I start swimming in acronyms, but with the right technique, you can make use of them. If acronyms make you feel nauseous at all, now is the time to take a nifty little medicine called Dramamine.

So if you haven’t heard already, B2B and B2C are two important acronyms in business, and they have a special implication for the type of social media you might work on.

B2C = Business to Consumer. So this might be a business like retail, such as WalMart, or Amazon – where the primary customer is an individual. You could think of B2C as a “shopper-oriented business”.

Then, you have B2B, which is Business to Business.

This is one business selling products or services to another.

There are similarities in the way you might market products to businesses and consumers, but there are also differences – and in general, a business to business, B2B approach has a “longer sales cycle”.

For example, if you worked at a software company named Initech, and your job was to fill out TPS reports, then you might suggest using an outside service to help fill out the reports. And you might go online, do some research, and find costs. You could go to a TPS provider directly, but you could also hire an agency with expertise to advise you. So you might have meetings, submit your proposal internally, and your boss might say, “great idea, looks like it costs a lot, let’s look at this next quarter”. And in three months, you revisit the research, and download some white papers, and resume the process. Then finally, you might hire a TPS agency.

It’s not always the case, but often there’s more content around someone buying a product or service for their business. For example, if you end up offering freelance social media marketing services, or work for an agency, or a company, you might be tasked with evaluating the new tools on the market, so you’d be in a B2B situation, going out and looking at material, evaluating, trying things out, looking for reviews.

In a B2C situation, with many products, people do research, but it’s maybe not as intense, and it might not take as long. Like if you were searching for cell phones, you might look at prices, or go to a store, read a review, and maybe decide in a few weeks.

So from a social media perspective, it’s worth considering what context you’re doing the marketing in. As you learn about the various tools and techniques, consider scenarios of whether you are trying to marketing something to a consumer, or to another business.

And one area where this concept has the most impact on social media might be in content – that is, content that you might post to social media. For example, an informational article on your product might be more in-depth if it is business-oriented, and there might be more of them.

Again, it all depends on the particular product – but you could think of B2C and B2B as two “roads” through social media, which might affect how you approach things.


Engagement is a term you may have heard of, even if it was only in the whimsical conversation earlier in this chapter. It existed before social media, but it is especially present in social media.

In theory, with social media, you want to “engage” your audience, through promotions, contests, content, articles, video, etc. Whatever it takes to get people talking to you, with you, talking to other people. It’s a philosophy of marketing, and it has its merits, and it has its limits.

Without breaking too many rules or principles, I’m going to go out on a limb and claim that engagement as a principle, probably owes more to a heritage of public relations, than anything else.

The function of public relations, traditionally, has been to “Generate buzz”. Like you might dream of getting a “publicity stunt”, that drew a lot of attention, to the release of an album, or product, etc.

Conversely, you may have heard the phrase, “public relations nightmare”, when something goes wrong.

So a PR department’s role is often to “engage” through whatever media channels they can, and the more “awareness”, the better.

The engagement side of social media might be thought of similarly – getting attention. But the question you still have to ask yourself is – what is the impact on the business?

If you’re drawing people in with some kind of hook, and they are “engaged”, does it translate into sales?

Maybe, maybe not.

And with all the talk of ROI in this chapter, it’s fair to say that in many cases, social media could be thought of, and perhaps should be thought of, as public relations. PR is often a sunk cost where you want to drive awareness, and “manage” the reputation of a company. And in fairness, because so many people are “on” social media, it’s definitely true that in our day and age, it’s only a matter of hours, or even minutes, before some negative incident can become a true “public relations nightmare” for any business.

And it’s also true that keeping your ear to the ground, to detect issues early, is a really good idea. So you might keep that in mind in the “monitoring” section coming up in this chapter. Social media is not just for “posting”, but is also for “listening”.

And one of the most solid legs to stand on, if you’re talking to a business owner, large or small, in relation to social media, is simply to make sure that you are out there listening in the social media world, attentive to anything someone might say about your business. And this applies to local, national or global companies. The stakes are high for any company, so it pays to listen.


Here’s another acronym for you – “Word of Mouth”. As in, word of mouth marketing.

And you might say that social media is a platform ideally suited for “word of mouth” marketing.

So the question is, can you really “make” someone share a product, or idea, or can you only make it easier for them to do so?

For example, Apple Computer does spend money on marketing. But their focus is on making their products great in the first place. The excellence of their products fights half the battle of marketing, and perhaps more. Because they produce delight, and are very high quality, people talk about them, tell others about them. It’s self-propelled, word of mouth marketing.

So what’s a marketer to do, faced with a product that is “ok”, and the need to do “word of mouth” marketing?

Well the short answer is that you can’t do something with nothing.

But in terms of helping a business, one of the other things that “social listening” can provide is insight into what people think about your products. And it’s also true that the best, most successful companies, do listen to their customers, very carefully. So it could be that one of the functions a social media marketer could provide is helping a business to make, and keep their products excellent. And when you do that, then you get that beautiful self-propelled, word of mouth marketing.


Some people separate social media marketing and social media monitoring, but I’m putting them under the same umbrella.

Basically, there are a number of tools out there that make it easier to listen to what people are saying.

.For example, one of the tools that’s often found in social media marketing job descriptions, depending on the size of the company, is Radian6, which is now part of Salesforce.

And it has all kinds of nifty ways of sifting through social media and visualizing the results:

Radian6 will do things like trying to tell you, automatically, whether people are feeling “good” about your brand, products, keywords, or if they are feeling negative. There’s an automated side to social media monitoring, and it has some value, but also has its limits. In general, social media monitoring allows you to “scan” social media and see what people are saying, down to the level of individual posts.

Entire books have been written about social monitoring, and we’ll talk about it later in the book, but the bottom line is that you get what you pay for. Radian6 is pricey. And then there are free tools. And then there are hundreds in between.

As an experiment, you might just want to try going to, and typing in a company name, or famous person’s name, and see what happens.

Posting: Promotions/Content

Aside from some of the general principles and acronyms and tools, when it comes down to it, social media marketing is about posting.

For example, here is a “promotional” post. This is an example of one kind of post that is popular for businesses to make. Coupons, discounts, special sweepstakes, etc.

“If” a person is looking at the particular media channel, “if” they notice the post, “if” the offer is compelling, then they might click on it. If they really like the offer, they might also share it, and that’s the holy grail of social media marketing – to get people to share, what you’ve shared. It’s a big game of show and tell basically.

The other kind of post is “content”, or “general”. Something interesting, maybe relevant to the company or product, or maybe just interesting, or maybe just the latest.

And the type of business you are, will have an impact on the type of posts you make. If you remember the discussion about B2C and B2B, for example, this is where the rubber hits the road.

If you have people following you on social media, and your followers are business people, and you are a social media marketing agency, then your followers are probably interested in reading articles about social media. So you might create blog posts that talk about social media – you might post related news, or you might write a longer “white paper” and post that. B2B often involves longer, more in-depth content, and that content is good for posting into social media.

In a B2C setting, it’s sometimes a little harder to develop content that would be compelling and interesting to your audience – but it’s certainly possible. Articles, reviews, product introductions, there’s a lot of variety out there.

Channels: Facebook, Twitter, TBD

There are many “channels” in social media, but as part of keeping things focused, my approach is to focus on Facebook and Twitter in this book – to cover YouTube as well, and primarily for B2B purposes, to also discuss linked in.

Here’s one graphic that shows that % of visits to different networks:


So in general, most companies doing social media marketing of some kind will generally have a Facebook page, and a Twitter account. YouTube is also popular, if the business has the resources to create and post videos.

There are always new networks on the rise – Pinterest for example – so one general rule of thumb is to learn about the primary networks, and then depending on the company you work for, or the company you provide your services to – learn about their audience, and what types of networks their audience might spend time on. Again, whether it’s B2C or B2B could make a difference.

A consulting company selling services to other companies might have a sizable presence on LinkedIn, for example, where a fashion retailer might make an effort to get a presence going on Pinterest.

P.S. If you’re not familiar with any of the networks in the diagram above, I suggest pausing, going on, typing their names in, and either going to the main sites, or looking for a Wikipedia article on them.

Tools: Internal, 3rd party (ex: Hootsuite)

So when you start doing social media marketing, how do you do it? And what tools do you use?

In some cases, the tools for marketing on a social network, are built into the network itself.

For example, to advertise on Facebook, you can go to

And then there are a lot of external tools – that is, not on a social network, but generally a website with a free or paid service, that you can use to help manage some aspect of social media marketing.

For example, later in this book, we’ll look at Hootsuite, which as a free version, which can help with a variety of tasks in social media, including taking a single blog post, and automatically posting it to multiple networks. It can be a real time-saver.

Things Change

Before we wrap up this chapter, the main thing I’d say is that things are always changing. Facebook and Twitter are probably here to stay – but things will come up out of nowhere, such as Instagram, or Snapchat – and will be worth billions of dollars because so many people are using it. YouTube is also probably here to stay.

So I’d say it would be a safe bet to become familiar with Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and to assume that it’s a good idea to keep up with what’s coming, and what younger generations are starting to use.

For example, people are using their mobile devices so much, and “apps” on the mobile devices, that the apps are drawing traffic away from spending time on things like Facebook. Hence Facebook buying an app for billions of dollars, and then figuring out how to advertise on the new “channel”

As a medium-term, long-term prediction, more and more social media marketing will become mobile advertising, and some of the principles will remain the same, but some may change.

So the bottom line is, get familiar with what the big channels are, and also try “learning how to learn” – not thinking you have to know “everything’, but learning about some of the networks that are growing.

One easy way to learn about such things is to go on sites like once in awhile, and learn about the latest news. Or google “social media news”, and see what happens.

Just remember not to get buried in acronyms or buzzwords.

And remember ROI!

Search Drill

As a test of the emergency “learning how to learn” system, I invite you, especially if you’re in a class, to take a moment, scan through the chapter if you have to, and search for more information, on a particular topic, or tool, or concept that was most interesting to you.

Or try this link:


ROI! ROI! Remember ROI!

I like to be visual, so in conclusion, I present this piece of clip art, which turned up on, for a search under the word “fuzzy”:

Because I want to make a point and claim that sometimes social media feels fuzzy to me. You end up learning about it, and it’s easy to get carried away, or overwhelmed, by all the options and the hype. And in many cases, there’s not a very clear conversation about how it all makes money – to keep you employed, or to help the business in a meaningful way. It just gets kind of “fuzzy” sometimes.

For example, if you google “Social media landscape”, and then click on the Image link, so that you just see images, you’ll get something like this, which are images that attempt to map out social media.

Kind of a collection of cacaphonies.

.But wait, here’s an example image from that search:

Does it remind you of anything?

Looks kind of fuzzy, doesn’t it?

In contrast, here’s a nice crisp picture of a business using social media in an intelligent way, able to pay your paycheck or your invoice with a single bound:

Just remember, a business has to make money in order to pay you.


Remember, there’s a LinkedIn Group at - if you want to come on and say “huh?” or if you would like to set me straight on something, or whatever.

Remember, there are NO DUMB QUESTIONS. If you have the question, someone else surely also did.


Here’s some basics on Facebook, if you haven’t tried it. Don’t be ashamed. It’s ok!

And courageous explorers might like to explore:

NOTE: You can download a copy of this chapter in PDF form below.
Todd Kelsey,
Jul 30, 2014, 2:30 PM