Wanted: Social Media Marketer

Must have experience growing followings and driving engagement using best practices in the field. Must have an understanding of the various social media platforms and how to use related tools.

It’s a familiar job posting. I see it all the time. I see companies looking for people to help them with their social media marketing. And then I see the work they do. And I gasp.

Here’s what MOST social media marketing looks like.

Popular post. Funny comic. Popular post. Product shot. Popular post. Call to action.


And it’s not working.

Have you ever played Settlers of Catan? Like 15 years ago, it won awards as the world’s best board game. I loved it. I played it all the time. I had the digital version. We played it constantly.

And then I joined a board game group. I started playing with a bunch of people once a week. And that’s when I learned that Settlers of Catan isn’t actually a game.

I get it. You’ve played Settlers of Catan and you want to argue with me about this.

That’s fine. You’re wrong. But that’s fine.

Here’s what Settlers of Catan actually is. It’s an imitation of a game. It imitates the actions that you would take when you were playing a game. You roll a dice. You move figures around. You develop a strategy. But when it comes down to it, at the beginning of the game, you pick a number, and then you hope people roll that number. You might as well be playing roulette.

So what does that have to do with social media marketing?

Well, it’s pretty simple. Social media marketing is when you figure out a way to bring your product to people using the power of social media. Social media marketing is Barry Bonds style word of mouth advertising. It’s word of mouth, but hitting 800 foot homeruns.

But that’s not what you see on most accounts. On most accounts you see what LOOKS like social media marketing. There’s links. There’s posts. They use hashtags and there’s some pictures. It’s social media marketing. Right?


It LOOKS like social media marketing. You’re doing all the things that look like marketing. But what you’re doing is busy work.

In Settlers of Catan, your turn is you rolling the dice, collecting some resources and spending those resources. Your turn is busy work. It’s like posting your Throwback Thursday post because you had a popup that told you it’s Thursday.

So what does social media marketing feel like when it’s done right? I say feel rather than look because that’s an important distinction.

When social media marketing is done right, it feels honest. It feels like you’re genuinely interested in talking to (or at least at) the people that you’re talking to. It feels like you’re building a community.

And here’s why.


Look, you MIGHT get a little bit of really quick traction if you just bombard the internet with pictures of goats with your branding on it. You might. It’s true.


That’s short-term gain. You see, what happens when people actually start to interact with you live, IRL, is that they figure out that the person they met online is NOT you.

And of course it’s not. Maybe it’s another staff member that handles social. Maybe you’ve hired a consultant to help you out…

Whatever the case, people figure out pretty quickly that you’re a fraud.

So how do you fix that?

You don’t IMITATE the game. You don’t IMITATE social media marketing.

You do it.


First, know your audience. Spend a lot of your time online listening. Listen to everything that everyone says about everything. Specifically, listen to people that are connected to your brand. Follow ALL of your customers online. Follow ALL of your competitors online. Listen to what they say. Now this doesn’t mean you have to physically follow everyone, but if you don’t know what they’re doing, you messed up.

Second, speak to their needs, not yours. They’re not here for you. They’re here for them. THEY’VE got shit to do. Nobody is logging onto Twitter so that McDonald’s can tell them about their new chicken sandwich. Nobody is hopping on Facebook so Toyota can tell them how awesome a Prius is. So what are your followers online for? Figure out what that is, and deliver it.

I can usually tell pretty quickly if a brand is using an external social media manager, especially in the case of small businesses. How? Because they’re tone deaf. They’re not speaking to the customers. They’re just talking for the sake of talking. They’re taking their turn. They’re just rolling the dice.

As I said before, social media marketing is word of mouth marketing.

Can you imagine if people walked up to you on the street, or talked to you at dinner, the way that some businesses handle their social media?

Do you think that would work?

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