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Social Media is Like a Hardware Store

At its essence, marketing has not changed.

 

Marketing is how we tell the world that we have something of value to offer.

 

Of course, the most powerful type of marketing is word-of-mouth. This is because a word-of-mouth referral comes with a built-in recommendation. In marketing, we call this social proof.

 

Word-of-mouth referrals have always happened naturally at places where people hang out. Today, people spend a lot of time on social media, so lots of word-of-mouth referrals tend to occur there. But this hasn't always been true. In the days before the internet was invented, people naturally connected at the places they tended to need to go.

 

For my family, this was the local hardware store. My family were farmers and carpenters, and, as you can imagine, they needed to get things from the hardware store regularly, as did our friends and neighbors. In our community, everyone went to the hardware store for pretty much everything you needed, including groceries or just to hang out and shoot the breeze.

 

The deep connections people made at the hardware store can be illustrated by a story my grandmother used to tell.

 

I was the first born child to my young parents. On their way home from the hospital after I was born, they had to stop at the hardware store to "show and tell" everyone about their new baby. My grandmother told this story in the context of how silly she felt this was, as she felt my mother should get home to rest and focus on taking care of her new baby and worry about the hardware store in the next few days. But, to my parents, it was more important to stop at the hardware store and tell whoever was there that their baby was here. They knew that, once the word was out, soon everyone in the community would know about the new addition to the family. 

Photo: The author with her father. 

 

Today, young parents wouldn't think of going to the hardware store to share the good news about their new baby. Today, they share pictures of their baby on social media. Social media has become the place for connection in today's society. 

 

And, just like the hardware store in the days of old, any type of information - including new businesses in town, job openings, new products on the market, and pretty much any information that interests people - is going to be shared on social media.

 

When we think of marketing in today's digital society, sometimes it helps to think back to the essence of word-of-mouth sharing and realize that the core of marketing hasn't changed. The places we share word-of-mouth information has changed, but the essence of what type of information people want to hear hasn't changed. 

 

It's incumbent upon us as marketers to get the good news out about what our brand has to offer. When you offer something of value, it's up to us to make sure people that can benefit from our offer have the opportunity to gain something that can make a difference in their life. 

 

If you are not active on at least 1 social media channel, you are doing your business - and your future customers - a disservice, and you are leaving money on the table.

 

On what social media channel(s) do you engage with your audience? Have you gotten new customers or clients from your participation on social media? Please leave comments below - I'd love to hear from you!

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