The dawn of social media was a trip, even to experienced digital marketers. By 2006 we were already zeroed in on earning money by "leveraging social."

From day-one marketers asked the burning questions: How do we earn money via social media participation while being great participants in social communities and not offending anyone? How do we play to get things right, be human, and still market to virtual friends?

The social commerce conundrum was, and is still easily answerable by remembering simple values instilled during our earliest school days.

A decade ago, the most important social marketing channels were easily lumped into nine distinct categories, which is still true today. The screenshot below shows my notes while blogging during the inaugural SMX Social, 2007 New York City marketing conference.

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Though just the infancy of social media marketing, the talk back then was all about marketing gone good, bad and horrible. Smart marketers learned early that following these ten rules governing kindergarten made it easier to do well in social marketing:

1. Break a rule, face a consequence.

During that inaugural SMX conference, much of the buzz focused on getting links to websites from Wikipedia. Gazillions of potential customers landed on Wikipedia after a basic keyword search (and still do).

A link in Wikipedia can still drive crucial web traffic. A decade ago, however, many marketers learned the hard way that spamming Wikipedia was a devastatingly bad idea with lasting consequences.


At the time, search engines downloaded and used lists of Wiki-blacklisted spam sites, which meant potential bans from other sites because you messed with Wikipedia. Lesson learned. Follow the rules.

2. and 3. Be respectful and patient. Do things in order.

At the same conference, legendary marketer Stephan Spencer preached defensible marketing behavior processes that could reasonably result in legitimate Wiki links. Spencer laid out simple rules of patience and order:

"Add your [Wikipedia] links within references rather than the external links section. References must substantiate claims made in the article copy. Convey that you are an upstanding member of the community by the age and history of your account, awards, your user page and your talk page. Incorporating content edits when adding a link makes it harder to revert your edit. Communicate with the main editor of the article before adding an external link that you think is valuable but could be looked at with suspicion and removed."

4. Goals are important.

Social channels have come and gone over the last decade plus. MySpace proved great for word-of-mouth marketing goals (for a while). Flickr was awesome for brand and product images, which boosted brand search. Foundational social marketers were pragmatic and focused on setting goals aligned with each channel's strengths or weaknesses.

Today, smart marketers still set clear business objectives, understanding and have mastery understanding of each social community's purpose culture. (For what it's worth, I didn't really start learning about business goals until my middle school lemonade stand.)

5. Serve the community.

Social makes it possible to align goals with magnanimous service.

In Twitter, a good goal today is about being influential in markets. In Facebook or LinkedIn, profiles can establish powerful personal profiles and networks for free distribution to find customers, hire employees and make mutually beneficial, career-long relationships. YouTube allows easy distribution of "how-to" videos, discoverable in search engines.

Each channel allows amazing opportunities for service and contribution to all participants.

6-9. Respect others. Running off at the mouth is bad. Tell the truth. Say you're sorry.

Today's social media optimization today isn't much different than a decade ago. Yesterday's lessons loom even larger today.

Most lessons are simple. Healthy, respectful marketing is wholesome. Spamming others (running off at the mouth for no reason) is just plain awful. Honesty matters. And people will give you a lot of latitude if you genuinely apologize when you do what we all do: make mistakes.

10. Everyone is beautiful for who they are.

Digital marketing futurist Chris Sherman made prescient predictions in 2006 that define today's social communities. He predicted social communities would become "internet way-finding tools informed by human judgement. 'Informed' can mean many things, including egregiously uninformed."

Smart social marketers today know they're dealing with a mob, that sometimes individuals or crowds go bonkers, get mad, lash out. Some just don't present well in public. They scream "boycott" at the tiniest slight. They forget to see beauty in others (or maybe themselves).

Bonus rules: Treat others the way you want to be treated. One is silver and the other's gold.

Bottom line: It's perfectly fine to market in social media among new and old friends, with great results to be had. Just remember the basics of how to treat people. Never underestimate the basics of existing in harmony with community.