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Man with megaphone pictureMarketers are getting so excited over the emergence of this new marketing tool (or medium) known as social media. All marketers have to do is join Youtube, Digg, and Twitter; add a bunch of friends, and start shoveling content at them…right? Wrong, on several accounts; first, social media is not a marketing "tool" at all; it is a way of life. Second, adding friends and shoveling content at them is almost a guaranteed failure.

If I had a megaphone and started running around the streets shouting at people trying to convince them to buy my products, would they? Of course not. Why? Because I cannot interrupt people that I do not know, to sell them a product that they probably do not want. Marketers are using social media as their megaphones. They are yelling at people, trying to interrupt them and convince them to buy a product that they probably do not want.

If however, I were to approach people on the street one by one and engage them in a conversation to find out what their general preferences are, then I would have a much better chance of selling them one of my products. Why? Because I am building a relationship with them, and that is what social media is all about, relationships.

So what is all this mumbo jumbo about social media being a way of life? Well social media profiles are extensions of physical people. Profiles are designed so that you can learn about a person based on the information they have filled out. When people are not out and about, they are online interacting with one another through Twitter, Facebook, blogs, etc. Your social media profile IS YOU. It has your picture, your interests, and even a list of your friends.

The most effective marketing is relationship marketing. Engage your customer base in a conversation and only then can you begin marketing your products. If you engage them with marketing pitches and advertisements too soon, then they delete you from their friends list and you have just lost a prospective customer. Do this enough times and you lose all of your customers (online anyway).

Build a relationship with your customer base, and then they will be the ones asking you to market to them.

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