The 9 Immutable Laws of Social Media Marketing

“What can I expect from social media?”

“What kind of return on investment will I get?”

“I tried social media and got no customers!”

These are the kinds of questions and responses I hear daily in my conversations with clients both present and potential about social media. Often I tell folks to set and manage expectations correctly and that social media marketing is not a play if you are looking for immediate gratification.  I also tell state that social media is one of the tools in your marketing kit and it should fit strategically into your overall marketing plan.

From these conversations I’ve come up with a set of nine laws of social media to provide all marketers with proper expectations.

1. Brand + time = revenue. The more time consumers spend with your brand and products, the more likely they are to buy. Engaging customers or prospects in social media channels increases brand/time.

2Brand + channels = revenue. The more channels in which consumers interact with your brand, the more likely they’ll buy. Offering multiple engagement channels allows for consumer self-selection of preferred channels. Being in the right social media channels based on your market increases channel interaction.

3Brand + time + channels = advocates. Consumers spending time in multiple channels breeds customers more likely to become brand advocates and influencers. This is the new multichannel marketing model for the 21st century. Social media creates brand advocates and turns peers into your best salespeople.

4. Exponential search factor. Social media increases your search engine rankings and, when combined with your website, drives additional traffic via organic search.

5. The newfangled customer service factor. Consumers choose their contact preferences. Brands that don’t have multiple channels for customer service risk losing customers. Consumers expect instant gratification, and social media delivers.

6Behind-the-scenes factor. People don’t buy from brands; they buy from people. Social media puts a human face on the faceless corporate entity. Social media’s biggest opportunity is to allow people to connect with your employees as peers.

7. Trust is the new black. If done correctly, the aforementioned laws allow consumers to build or rebuild trust. Social media harkens back to the days of the corner store where consumers and brands had a cordial relationship. Social media builds relationships over time.

8. The reputation factor. Whether you like it or not, consumers are talking about your brand. Social media is the great neutralizer. It allows you to seek out negatives and turn them into positives via reputation management and communications.

9. The time spent factor. Customers aren’t always ready to buy. Social media prepares customers with all of the above over time.

Note from Jim.  This article was originally written for eMarketing and Commerce Magazine.  Click here for the original I wrote

14 thoughts on “The 9 Immutable Laws of Social Media Marketing

    • WildDove says:

      Great tips, Jim. Sometimes we get caught up with all the new social media trends that we can forget that it’s just another tool, if properly used, for building business relationships.


  1. Gerard Murphy says:

    Well put Jim.

    Social Media Marketing offers real promise to those brands that give tremendous value to their customers. Customers are now in control. Gone are the days when customers get unwanted communications. Now in order to be heard a brand must be relevant, timely and in the right place (and channel).

    Best, Gerard

  2. Michelle Mangen says:

    Jim – I agree – very well put. I’m glad you had this posted on the LI group for bloggers (how I found you).

    I tell my clients the same thing – Twitter (esp) that it’s a strategy that takes time and it’s not about instant gratification.

    In my case I’m now getting referrals from people that I built a relationship with a year ago and that relationship was never built on “I’m a VA, hire me.” Rather it was one built on genuine concern/interest in the other party and in my case it’s paying off well.

    That being said I could probably “get away” with actually doing some self-promotion but I don’t.

    Your items #5 & #6 are ones I am pretty adamant about.

    I wrote a series of four blog posts last month about brand monitoring/customer service by some pretty big names on Twitter….all three of them “failed” my my metrix.

    For #6 – I always tell people when I help them set up their Twitter account that people will interact or NOT interact with them based on “the face” – if the face is a logo rather than a true person – there will be less interaction!

    Again, great post – glad I found you via LinkedIn

  3. Brian Mossing says:

    Jim, well written. Clear, concise content makes it easier to understand how it applies. I really like the mathematical notation in 1, 2, & 3. It helps clarify how things fit together. Good post.

  4. Tyrone Tellis says:


    I agree with law no 7 but I would phrase it as Trust is the new currency. Saying trust is the new black makes it sound like trust is a fad.

    Also the way you’ve framed it they don’t sound like laws just tips. Remember the Ries Trout laws: They resemble the laws of Newton etc in stating an action and reaction or a statement of fact.

    Also ‘Social media’s biggest opportunity is to allow people to connect with your employees as peers.’
    That’s also the biggest threat if your employees are not putting their best foot forward.

    ‘ Consumers spending time in multiple channels breeds customers more likely to become brand advocates and influencers.’ This might lead brands to dilute themselves in SM through trying to be in all places

    Overall a good effort.


  5. Eric Goldman says:

    Hi Jim;
    An excellent post with a great deal of food-for-thought, succinctly expressed. I think one of the biggest impediments to SMM adoption is ROI, or rather, the inability to calculate it. Having spent a great deal of time on this problem, I’m happy to say that one can calculate Return on Marketing Investment, or ROMI. These approaches sacrifice 100% accuracy for simplicity. They work well enough to use with confidence and because they’re easy enough to use, you’ll use them!
    The three posts below reveal the methods and provide tools to put them into effect :
    How to calculate the ROMI of your website as a whole:
    A list of the 10 best free ROI calculators on the web:
    How to build your own ROI calculator (perhaps for your social media campaign):

  6. correlationist says:

    Jim, you hit it out of the park!! Great rule of thumbs!!

    It is ultimately going to be about “listening”, and MAKING each and every customer/consumer feel empowered, special, important!! The beauty of social media is that you can, and HAVE to engage in a one to one conversation. Engage, build trust, and at the expense of stirring a hornet’s nest, I am reminded of TW’s oft quoted press interview statement – A ” W” takes care of everything else!! In the case of social media, a genuine intent to help will lead to the right engagement, and with the right content/product proposition, loyalty and brand advocacy will follow.

    Would love your thoughts on my thought re: “Darwinism and Social Media” at

    Great post.


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