The Key to Avoid the Cardinal Error of Social Media Marketing

Are you making the CARDINAL ERROR of social media marketing? This one thing can completely torpedo your social media marketing efforts, and drive people far away from you faster than just about anything else.


Kent Stuver

2 years ago | 6 min read

Are you making the CARDINAL ERROR of social media marketing?

Most new freelancers, solopreneurs, coaches, and consultants who build their business on social media do.

But this one thing can completely torpedo your social media marketing efforts, and drive people far away from you faster than just about anything else.

The Cardinal Error Of Social Media Marketing

You see it on social media all the time.

  • Authors post links to their book’s sales page on
  • Etsy and Shopify store owners post links directly to a sales page for one of their products.
  • Affiliate marketers post links directly to their affiliate URL.
  • Freelancers post links directly to their Upwork or Fiverr pages.
  • Networkers post links to their products or to their biz op signup page.

This is the CARDINAL ERROR of social media marketing: People try to sell on social media.

A Social Media Cocktail Party

Beginning marketers see that they can build an audience on social media pretty quickly, which is one of the powerful aspects of social media marketing. But trying to SELL directly to their social media audience shows a misunderstanding of one important thing.

People don’t come to social media to BUY. They come to social media to socialize.

You can think of social media as kinda like a cocktail party. When you walk into a cocktail party, you’ll usually see a big room with a lot of people in small groups. Each group is a little conversation. And, people tend to meander from one conversation to the next.

If you show up at the cocktail party and start passing out flyers about your Super Flamboyant WYSIWIG Generator (on sale right now for ONLY $19.95), people will think you’re strange and try to get as far away from you as they can, as fast as they can.

The same thing is true with your social media audience.

So, what do you do instead?

Social Media Marketing Is All About Relationships

Here’s the key: you use social media to build relationships. You participate in the conversation in a positive, meaningful way. In the process people get to know, like, and trust you.

Additionally, you share content that is appropriate to the conversations. Much of this will be content that you create. But you can also share content from others.

Then, at appropriate times and places in the conversation, you invite members of your audience to come join your private, permission-based audience.

Marketing giant, Seth Godin, teaches that nearly every marketing effort is magnified and made more effective when there is an element of permission.

Once people move from your public social media audience into your private and closed marketing audience, they have either implicitly or explicitly given you permission to market to them.

This private and closed marketing audience is usually your email list.

See also: Email List Building for Absolute Newbies

Getting Permission To Market

The concept of inviting people to subscribe to your email list is actually pretty simple.

They give you their email address in exchange for a lot of value that you will provide to them in the form of an ongoing newsletter. In return, they consent to see and consume some level of marketing or promotion along with that value.

Pretty simple, eh?

But as Gary Vaynerchuk likes to point out, marketers tend to ruin everything. So this simple concept has developed some new wrinkles along the way.

The Psychology Of Asking For An Email Address

One of the ways marketers ruin things is that we train people too well.

We’ve trained people to have a disposable or throwaway email address that they use whenever one is requested online. They seldom check it, and most of the messages sent there end up in the spam folder or on the promotions tab.

So, there are two objectives when we ask for an email address:

  1. To get people to give their best email address–the one that they check most often.
  2. To have them whitelist the email address we’ll be sending our newsletters from, after opting in.

Those are a couple of big steps, so it takes a bit of psychology.

To begin with, Jeremy Smith teaches that these are the three, key laws to getting someone in your audience to part with their email address.

  1. Ask for their email address.
  2. Ask again.
  3. Then ask again.

These “three laws” represent the principle of repetition. Repetition is the path to learning and action. So, the more frequently you ask and/or remind your audience of your request, the more likely they are to give in to your request.

Know, Like, And Trust

The more people know, like, and trust you, the more willing they are to take the two big steps of giving their best email address and of whitelisting you.

People in your social media audience get to know, like, and trust you through the content you create and provide. At the very least, you should be creating a significant, keystone piece of content each week, with a smaller, congruent piece of content every day through the rest of the week.

Also, the more mature the social media relationship is and the longer that people have been actively engaging in your audience, the more likely they are to take these two big steps when you ask. If you ask for their email address early in the relationship, you’ll have to take some stronger action to get them to take the two big steps.

When you are providing a ton of super-valuable content each day and week, it’s pretty simple.

At the end of each blog post, video, or live stream, make a simple invitation, such as this:

Did you find this information useful? If so, then you’ll probably want to subscribe to my email newsletter. It’s jam-packed with insider secrets, strategies, and tips that will go a long way to help you _____. In fact, a lot of these are never seen by the general public. Click here {Follow the instructions in this post} to subscribe.

Perceived Newsletter Value

When you invite your audience to subscribe to your newsletter, you should emphasize the ongoing value that the newsletter will provide. It’s key that this not be just a one-time, up-front value. The value should be perceived to be so powerful that it will actually COST them to not open one of the emails.

You can also stress that your newsletter contains insider information, or valuable content that isn’t available anywhere else. So, you newsletter should NOT just be a regurgitation of content that you provide elsewhere. The more exclusive you can describe your newsletter as, the better.

In a bit I’ll talk about the use of a special offer or lead magnet. Many online marketers make the mistake of placing the emphasis on the value that the lead magnet provides. If you choose to offer a lead magnet, the lead magnet may be what gets people to your opt-in page, but the ongoing value of your newsletter should be what actually gets them to subscribe.

The Right Lead Magnet, The Right Way

If you invite people to subscribe to your newsletter early in the social media relationship, they haven’t had time to really come to know, like, or trust you. In this case, you may need to provide some additional incentive for them to provide you with their email address. In essence, you’re giving them an ethical bribe.

This is especially true if you’re using paid advertising to build your email list.

You do this by creating a special offer, or lead magnet, which you offer for free in exchange for their best email address.

An Ethical Bribe

A lead magnet may take any number of forms:

  1. Video
  2. Slideshow
  3. Webinar
  4. Podcast
  5. Software
  6. PDF Guide
  7. Toolbox
  8. Privileged content

The content in the lead magnet should be immensely valuable.

But the content is not the purpose of the lead magnet. Rather, the purpose should be to demonstrate the type of value that you have to give. It should give a hint that there is even more great stuff to come.

In fact, the lead magnet should conclude by telling your subscriber to watch carefully for the next edition of your email newsletter, so that they get all the inside scoop.

Specific Problem, Specific Solution, Specific Segment

A long and complex lead magnet will likely convert poorly.

You simply need to solve a specific problem with a specific solution for a specific segment of your market.

And, through doing an amazing job of solving the specific problem, it should leave your reader wanting a whole lot more.

See also: 8 Keys to an Awesome Lead Magnet

Successful Email Marketing

Having an engaged, responsive email list is a wonderful thing. Kim Garst calls your email list, “your most valuable asset online.” And so it is.

A whole lot goes into creating an email list that actually makes you money.

For now, understand that properly contributing to the conversation on social media can be the key that forms your email list’s foundation.

By following these strategies, you participate in the social media cocktail party appropriately, build rapport with your audience, invite them to your email list, and avoid the cardinal error.

Did This Help You? If so, I’d greatly appreciate it if you shared it on Facebook and Twitter with the icons below. And, I’d love to connect with you on Twitter, here.


Created by

Kent Stuver

Author. Solopreneur. Gen-X Nomad. Copywriter. Online Marketer. Husband. Grandpa. Sax Player.







Related Articles