Make no mistake, social media and inbound marketing isn’t easy.  The vast majority of the clients I’ve worked with have all tried social media marketing and failed prior to bringing in inbound marketing professionals.  They all had two things in common – they didn’t follow all of the rules of engagement and failed to have a measurable goal.  If you follow the E.L.E.E. and T.H.A.R.G. principles, set measurable goals and offer relevant thought leading content it will be just a matter of time before you realize success in social media.



Engagement is a two-way street. When you engage with people in an online community, they will engage with you too. Engagement allows you to build the image and brand perception you want while handling customer service issues at the same time. Direct communication allows you to build real relationships with your customers and/or potential customers. Have you ever heard the saying, “people buy from people they know?”

TIP: Creating an online poll or contest is a great way to engage your customers. Also, consider creating a daily routine or ritual of engagement which will help to build relationships in your communities.


No matter what industry you’re in someone, somewhere is talking about your company, industry, brand, product or service. Usually these discussions are on one or more social media platforms. Most organizations don’t even know these conversations are taking place because they’re not listening. You should make active listening of your marketplace an important priority, since it will provide valuable insights into the minds of your customers.

TIP: Use one or more of the available social media monitoring services now available online. Some are free, while other more powerful tools require a monthly fee. HubSpot users can monitor social media conversations and blog posts with the built-in Social Media tool.

TIP: Set up a Google Alert ( for your company, industry, brand, etc. Google will alert you via email every time a website or social media platform discusses the keywords in your alert.

TIP: Follow your competitors and listen to what they’re doing. You may garner valuable competitive intelligence and develop a nimble response strategy for your marketplace.


People only go to the web for two reasons: to be entertained and/or to solve a problem. By presenting yourself or your company as an expert in your field, someone will find your content compelling enough to listen to your campaign more often because you can help solve their problems.

TIP: Connect your Blog RSS feed to your Twitter, Facebook or other social media accounts.  Blogs are a great flexible platform for organizations to educate their followers.


Entertainment is one of two reasons people go online. You don’t necessarily have to be funny to be entertaining. Iconic88 entertains thousands of people a day on Twitter by simply posting famous and not‐so‐famous quotes.

A company called Blendtec created a “Will It Blend” video series on YouTube where they put items like an iPhone, Silly Putty, golf balls, etc. in their blenders to see if it will blend. Their campaign resulted in over 50 million video views and a 700% increase in sales.

Granted, that campaign was funny. Video blog posts are also very popular. Always be yourself and authentic when providing entertainment because it can build a real connection between you and your prospects. Most people find video blog posts entertaining and educational at the same time.

Tip: Go viral. If your social media campaign is highly successful at entertaining visitors it may become viral and spread to millions of people on its own.



The internet offers some anonymity. However, it is not a good idea to take advantage of this. Companies and individuals in social media should always be as transparent as possible when using social media. Social media builds relationships and all good relationships require transparency.


Always be honest when communicating online. Lying is one of the fastest ways to get people to stop following you.


Be accountable for your actions and the actions of your company in social media. Imagine the additional PR nightmare BP would have had if they hadn’t displayed some level of accountability online.


If somebody goes out of their way for you in social media make sure you reciprocate the gesture.  Reciprocity is a great way to solidify a relationship.


Something as simple as a “Thank You” goes a long way in social media. Be grateful when your followers or fans do something nice for you.

The E.L.E.E. and T.H.A.R.G. principles represent my social media “bible.” If your social media marketing campaign didn’t give you the results you were looking for try it again, but this time use these social media rules of engagement.

Photo credit:  Me