Way back in 1988 at little book by Robert Fulghum captivated America for the better part of two years. Called “All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten”, he outlined the basic lessons every kid learns in the first year of primary school and how those apply to our everyday lives as adults.

As I’ve worked over the years on content marketing strategies, I’ve thought a lot about that book and so I dug it out and reread it recently.  Predictably, its lessons apply particularly well to an increasingly important component of content marketing: social media.

Applying Fulghum’s Lessons

1. Share everything; play fair; and don’t hit people.  Share updates to your blog posts, newsletter archives, YouTube channel, and podcast channel. Use the established interaction norms of social networking to build a like-minded audience with whom to share everything.  And don’t use your social channels for ill—be a force for good, however you define it.

2. Don’t take things that aren’t yours.  Observe fair use standards. Link to give credit where credit is due (or, as Jeff Jarvis says, “link unto others as you would have them link unto you”). Don’t use media for which you don’t own a copyright. Don’t repurpose others’ whole original work without approval.

3. Clean up your own mess; and say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.  Social media being what it is, you’re bound to step in it once in awhile. People make mistakes. It’s okay. ‘Fess up, take ownership, and apologize when necessary.

4. Wash your hands before you eat; flush; and live a balanced life.  Have you scrubbed your keyword lists? How about your topics list? And your audience lists?  Have you flushed the stuff that isn’t relevant or necessary or useful in some way? Is there a balance between the light stuff and the heavy stuff? The funny and the not funny?  The deeply human and the buttoned-up business stuff?

5.  Remember the book about Dick and Jane and the first word you learned, the biggest word of all: LOOK.  Have you found all the good stuff in house? Have you looked past the obvious to find truly novel and engaging stuff? Are you using your full field of vision, especially the peripheral?

6. When you go out into the world, watch for traffic.  Do you have a plan for measuring success? Do you even know what success looks like? If so, are you clear on how you’re measuring and what those metrics will mean to future action plans?

7. Be aware of wonder. Seek out the little things that surprise and delight you—the random tweet or blog comment, or that light-hearted parody of something your marketing team has done—and then celebrate those.

8. The roots go down and the plant goes up.  Social media and networking strategies aren’t “instant on” – they require cultivation and constant tending. But with patience they do bear fruit.  So: start it, and then hang in there and keep doing it.

Make sure all the social channels are not only leveraged to promote your content marketing but actually become another part of it.  Social is now central to any larger strategy.