The 10 Traits of Successful Social Marketers

What makes one company’s social media strategy successful while others #fail?

Recently I have been speaking with a number of marketers, customer service folks and even sales people about social media strategies that produce real business results. I have spoken to a number of people at companies of all shapes and sizes.

And I have seen a number of traits emerge.

Based on those conversations and my own experience in marketing, here are what I see as the most important traits of successful social marketers…

1. Customer-first Mindset: To me this is the most important aspect of a social marketer. Having a customer-first mindset is more rare than you might imagine. And it’s required to drive meaningful change within the organization and to be effective at generating marketing results that are important to the business. Serve the customer and you serve the business. Without this, effective social strategies are simply impossible.

2. Search Marketing Pros: I continue to believe that SEO is the most important tool in any marketers arsenal. It is important for understanding how to rank for search terms in Google but it also reflects a desire to understand how your customers are finding you and what information they need.

3. They Walk-the-Walk: Maybe they are not experts at using all the tools but they have found the ones that work for them. They have figured out how to balance the line between their personal and professional brand. They read blogs and test the new tools. And you know where to find them. I personally think blogging is an important tool for any social marketer to learn how to walk-the-walk. For others, micro-blogging might be enough to stay connected.

4. Customer-Service Urgency: When someone asks your company Twitter account a question, you better have an answer. The customer expectation is that there will be a near real-time response. I continue to believe that response management is the biggest opportunity in social media today. B2C companies were forced to figure this out in the last couple of years and now many B2B companies appear to be catching up.

5. Strategic: They set a business objective for their social efforts and track metrics that matter instead of activities to check a box. But they also see the importance of social in the larger business landscape. More on that below.

6. They are Change-agents: They started testing social tools before all the buzz and quickly realized the change they would cause for marketers and companies alike. But it is the desire to lead that change that makes for a great social marketer.

7. They Realize Marketers Are Publishers: They know that instead of creating 20-page whitepapers and 50-minute webinars, marketers are increasingly looking at content strategy where 140-character tweets, 2-minute YouTube videos and photos on Facebook will help them achieve their business objectives. Great marketing serves an audience, not just with brochure-ware, but with valuable content that people want and need.

8. Focus on Integrated Marketing: they do not want to just create amazing social media strategies but to drive social into the core of the marketing discipline and their business DNA. They realize that all marketing is digital and that the social media strategy role won’t exist in a few years.

9. They Get the Sociology of Social: They realize that social tools have enabled collaboration, connections and networks to transform people and their place in the socio-economic and geo-political world we live in. They want to transform their companies into social businesses to meet the changing consumer landscape. They realize that these changes impact business decision makers who also buy gum and cereal and cars. They realize that social changes everything, not just marketing.

10. You! The brightest marketers realize that they don’t have all the answers. They work to drive consumer-generated content and crowd-sourced innovation at their companies. They realize it is all about you and not them or their companies.

So in the spirit of this 10th trait, you tell me, what have I missed? Please tell me your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook.

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Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner  is a Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.

10 thoughts on “The 10 Traits of Successful Social Marketers

  1. Thanks Michael, a great summary. And I totally agree with your very first point, that having a customer-first mindset is the most important trait — and that it’s far more said than done. The use of social media as a “channel” to simply push out more promotional content is the most blatant type of ineffective social media, but even many more sophisticated approaches, at the end of the day, come down to trying to pull people to sales offers, around which initiatives and campaigns are organized.

    Truly being customer-first means starting with real customers and real issues, and then looking for ways to help – even if that means supporting other ways for them to succeed. When it works well, customer-first social media becomes intelligence gathering for new opportunities and the development of new offerings rather than simply pushing what’s on the shelf.

    1. Thanks Rob,

      I couldn’t agree more. I always say that you have to “Give to Get” and that you have to really do so with the goal of meeting customer needs vs. the goal of driving sales.

      It’s just ironic that the harder you try to sell anything the lower your chances of making the sale become. Unfortunately this is counter-intuitive to many. That’s why customer-first marketing is the only way to get (and keep) customers.


  2. Hi Michael,
    Well done 😉 I’d add only one point as a personality trait: a curious and fluid mind. SEO is an ongoing process and real time media plus continuous developments absolutely require receptiveness and strong desire to keep pace with new knowledge.
    Best wishes,

  3. indeed. indeed indeed 🙂 great post.
    open e mail
    open browsers
    check brenner’s blog

    ok can now start the day 🙂

  4. Michael,
    Just received an email with one of your blog posts listed as a resource so I clicked it. Wow, glad I did. It is now added to my RSS reader.

  5. It’s a fairly comprehensive list, Michael! Successful social marketing efforts also require a constant infusion of energy to fully leverage a community’s potential. There needs to be someone (or some very small team) at the strategic center empowered to nurture and whip (in the Congressional sense).

    1. Thanks Carolee, I agree there needs to be energy and no better place to see this than from the leaders in an organization. I would really like to see less social activity because someone’s boss told them to but instead because their boss is leading the way.

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