Jay Baer is one of the few bloggers I’ve found who consistently provides business-based, practical marketing advice.  I usually agree with him.  But he made a reference to social media marketing on a post this week that struck me as odd:

“… unlike every other marketing tool for the past 200 years, it’s a meritocracy, and that benefits us all.”

I’m only picking on Jay because this is the most recent iteration of a theme I’ve observed countless times — the opinion that somehow the social web is in a special new category where you actually have to EARN the trust of your customers.  Another variation is that the social web has “changed everything” about business and marketing.

No, it hasn’t.

The free market economy has ALWAYS been a meritocracy and always will be. If you don’t provide a quality product or service and you don’t represent it in an honest and compelling way, you won’t earn your way into the hearts and wallets of the world’s consumers.

Pre-social media, pre-Internet, even pre-mass communications, the fundamental tenet of marketing was this: Establish a brand promise based on consumer trust and never, ever break that trust. The concept is simple, the execution is extremely difficult.

Marketing is a continuous war to promote and protect your brand, whether it is a company, hospital, university, sports team or individual.  Social media offers an exciting new way to connect, but the marketing fundamentals are truly still the same.

The social web is just a new battlefield, not a new war.

How is the social web affecting your battle plan?

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