Social Media Marketing Is For Chumps

Isn’t chump a funny word? It’s vaguely reminiscent of chimp, but also champ… It even calls chomp to mind. But none of those words has quite the same ring as chump. And of course, none of them means dolt, or fool, as chump does.

While we’re on the subject of semantics, let’s talk about the word marketing. If you look it up in the dictionary, its definitions are surprisingly old-fashioned. says it’s “the act of buying or selling in a market,” which conjures up images of peasant maidens traipsing gaily to market, swinging a basket of eggs to sell. Merriam-Webster insists it’s “an aggregate of functions involved in moving goods from producer to consumer,” which includes “promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service.”

Is that what you think of when you hear the word marketing? I think most of us associate the term with “advertising” or “promotion,” rather than with the entire sales process, right down to distribution. Online marketing, after all, is touted as a means of promoting a company’s products and services to the public.

And therein lies the mistake, when it comes to social media marketing.

If we think of social media marketing as a way to toot our own horn, to advertise the features and benefits of our products and services to the public, to broadcast TV-style advertisements focused on how great our company is – then we’re chumps, plain and simple.

Marketing has evolved.

Social media marketing is not about promoting your products or services. Not at all.

It’s about creating meaningful connections with your online audience, building lasting relationships with them, helping them selflessly through in-depth conversations and free content.

It’s about winning respect, friendship, and loyalty.

It’s about following the Golden Rule.

By helping people out, no strings attached, companies are doing something much more vital to their success than advertising. They are building an online community. And what do members of communities do?

They support one another.

Mutual support is the name of the game these days. Companies provide valuable, complimentary content to their communities, and interact meaningfully with them, and in appreciation, community members become loyal devotees, sometimes even before they’ve ever made a purchase.

When the time does come for them to buy, you can be sure that they’ll not only buy from that company, but that they’ll also recommend them to friends, who will, in turn, become new members of the community.

Companies who still see social media marketing as just another means of broadcasting their advertising messages, however, will not only fail to reach those same heights of online success – consumers will actually see them in a negative light.

They seem untrustworthy, like the stereotypical used cars salesmen or carnival barkers, trying any tactic to pressure people into buying. According to several studies, even companies who have already won consumer trust can easily lose that trusted status if they stray from “helpful” mode into “promotional” mode.

If used in that way, social media marketing really is for chumps.

But if used to build community, and to support consumers’ needs before the needs of the company, social media marketing is for any astute businessperson looking for success.

Marketing has come a long way in the digital age, evolving from blatant self-promotion to the development of helpful online communities. We respectfully submit that the dictionary makers tweak their definitions of marketing to include this new world of relationship building and mutual support.


She is the founder & CEO of Zen Media. She has been named the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by Forbes, Businessweek, and Inc have all recognized her as one of the Top 30 under 30 entrepreneurs in the field of marketing. Shama has built a global audience and is known for helping brands succeed in the digital age. She is a bestselling author, an international keynote speaker, and has been named one of LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices in Marketing for four years in a row.



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