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Has Social Media Changed the Rules for Effective Marketing?

I realize I may be stepping onto some dangerous turf with this topic.

Because if I’m to believe all of the whitepapers, trade publications and online how-to guides…the enormous popularity of social networking web sites has changed everything when it comes to marketing.

The enormous number of people using social networking sites – if I’m to believe all the hype – means that marketers and copywriters need to make wholesale changes in the way they go about selling products and services. 

I realize I may come off as the lamest guy at the party when I say this, but…sorry — I’m just not buying it.

Oh, sure, I absolutely believe that the popularity of sites like Twitter and Facebook is soaring.

On top of that, I’ll confess – I’m personally addicted to BOTH Twitter and Facebook…and I’m not ashamed of it.

But that doesn’t mean that marketers and copywriters need to suddenly forget everything they’ve learned and adapt to some complex new set of marketing instructions that only a select few understand.  (The same select few, by the way, who are happy to explain all of these new rules to you in a new course/book/seminar that sells for $199.95…)

Think about it.

When e-mail and internet marketing began to take off, we were all told that “long copy” would no longer work.  “People have shorter attention spans,” we were told, “so they won’t read a 16-page sales letter.”

As it turns out, that was only partially true. 

People do now have shorter attention spans – but the fundamentals of good copywriting and marketing still apply…even to e-mail or internet sales. 

Even some of the oldest, crankiest copywriters in the business were able to successfully master the art of writing for the online market.

How were they able to do it?  It’s simple: the basics are still the same

It’s all about appealing to the prospect’s core desire – what keeps the prospect awake at night?  What does the reader dream about and aspire to?  What kind of lifestyle would your target prospect most like to be living?  Those fundamentals don’t change just because the medium changes.

But if I’m to believe the hype, this latest “revolution” – the social networking revolution – is the one that’s truly going to be different. 

After all, the “experts” say, the shift from traditional direct mail to e-mail or internet only affected the delivery of the message. 

But they tell us that what’s happening now is different.  The reliance on social networking – and the surge in popularity of Twitter in particular – could very well be changing the mindset of consumers. 

The warning is very clear – you’d better capture the reader’s attention in 140 characters or less…or else they’re gone.

And, again, there is some truth to this.

After all – I know my habits have changed.  Twitter has become an easy-to-use way for me to learn what’s going on in the news…with celebrities…and with friends. 

All I have to do is open to my Twitter page – I can even do this with my phone or my Ipod – and I’m instantly able to scan the headlines from those I’ve deemed important enough to “follow.”

Very quickly I decide – is this important?  Do I want to read more about this news story?  Am I interested enough to click the link?

But here’s my point – at the end of the day, though – is it any different than the world we’ve been living – and marketing – in all along?

For decades, haven’t the great marketers and copywriters been grabbing readers’ attention via direct mail with powerful headlines?

And in the last decade or so, haven’t those same brilliant marketers and copywriters expanded their expertise to include writing great e-mail subject lines?

In my mind, the same principles apply.

It’s not possible to become an overnight marketing guru by amassing thousands of Twitter “followers” or building a large network of Facebook friends.

Sure, having lots of followers can be helpful – but what will you do with them?  How will you turn those eyeballs into sales?

When you get right down to it, the “secret” to successful marketing – and copywriting – in this new era is the same as always. 

Those writers and marketers who make the strongest connection with their target audience – regardless of medium – and deliver the strongest, most compelling messages will be the ones who enjoy continued success.

No matter if the challenge is to grab the reader’s attention using a magalog headline…a #10 envelope…an e-mail subject line…or a 140-character “tweet” – the fundamentals are still the same. 

Jody Madron is a results-oriented copywriter with more than 20 years of breakthrough marketing experience.  To learn how Jody can deliver results-boosting copy — ahead of your deadline — visit

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