17th Jun 2015

The Rule of Seven

Social media marketing is a powerful way to reach your customer, but how has it changed marketing in general?

Social Media Made the Web Interactive

We all take this for granted today, but before Social Media came on the scene the web was largely static. Remember those old school plain Jane HTML websites? Remember the time BEFORE every website around had a Facebook “Like” button and a Google+ “plus one” button? This is without a doubt the single biggest change Social Media brought to web marketing.

Social Proofing

Social proofing runs on the theory of that if something has multiples of indicators, it’s good. For instance, if a restaurant car park is full of vehicles – it’s a good restaurant. Before Social Media, the most important form of social proofing online was a link. This is exactly how Google developed its PageRank concept and took the world by storm as the most powerful search engine ever. The jury is still out on exactly how “Social Signals” will play a role in the future of Google’s search engine rankings decisions, but there’s already enough evidence that it does play a role.


This is one of the most profound ways social media has changed the way we market. More and more consumers are “searching” via social networks and letting websites like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest determine what content they consume and what answers they find. They are also conducting ‘recreational shopping’ searches, where consumers troll the net just looking for things to buy.

These three ways now indicate the core of shopping habits of the majority of consumers, so the focus of marketing reflects that. Does that mean all shopping habits have changed?

One significant rule that has not changed, despite the rapid rate of adoption of social media management is the rule of seven.

The Rule of Seven – A Marketing Constant

The Marketing Rule of 7 states that a lead needs to hear the advertiser’s message at least 7 times before they’ll take the action to buy that product or service. It’s a marketing maxim developed by the movie industry in the 1930s that still holds true today. Studio bosses discovered that a certain amount of advertising and promotion was required to compel someone to see one of their movies.

Given the fact that social media has shrunken the restriction marketing had to reach out to people, a logical assumption would have been that the amount of times it takes of exposures before purchase would also shrink – but it hasn’t. Shopping habits may have changed, but the nature of people hasn’t. You still need to reach out to your audience at least seven times before they make a purchase. The good news is – with social media marketing those seven times can be in very short succession.

Because of these changes, todays marketing means you might need more than those 7 times just to be heard through all the clutter that’s in people’s newsfeeds or fields of vision. What you say in these messages matters. Will it be spam or some sales pitch? Definitely not all touches are created equal.

Social media marketing condenses the sales funnel so that you can progress a lead faster, or they enter into the funnel at a later point than traditional marketing. That’s the strength of using social media for marketing but you have to know how to use it well to craft a campaign that will be a success. If you do it right, seven will still be the magical number, but it has to be seven touches of marketing that truly resonate with your chosen demographic, they generate powerful emotional responses and don’t happen by accident.

How do you Create Powerful Content?

All powerful content has two elements: engaging stories leaving strong memories. Storytellers make emotional connections. You can’t create an emotional connection with traditional, interruptive advertising. You need to work with your customers, and work hard. If you can tell stories about what it’s like to do business with you and enlist your happy, loyal customers in the process, now you’re on your way to “touching” that prospect 7 times.

How do you tell a Marketing Story?

Mixed media marketing guru Seth Godin said, ‘It’s not about the products you make, it’s about the stories you tell’, and of course – he’s right. The content of the story has to be engaging and applicable to your audience, but that’s about the only restriction. You can use any media, in fact the more media you use, the more engaging the content is. That makes it sound easy, but it really isn’t. Constantly having to reinvent your message seven times a day takes skill, but you have to do it.

How do you make a Marketing Message Memorable?

If you manage to make your content engaging you are halfway to being memorable. With the morass of information being thrown at anyone who has an internet connection standing out is essential. Three of the best ways are:

IMAGES: Tell your story in pictures. Be real. Take images of your employees doing what they do, or the path that your product takes, or illustrate your content with images. If you can get your own photos taken they engage the most, but if they are unavailable you need to pic stock images that describe your product, services or company images. The images must speak loudly to be memorable.

VIDEO: Whatever platform you use, video is one way that you can tell a story quickly, concisely and magically, giving you the flexibility to make it anything you want it to be. All video platforms are well visited and provide a huge audience. It can also rapidly establish you as an authority in your industry and provide credentials that can be verified easily. Not having video in your mixed marketing suite is a huge oversight, and the return on investment is just as impressive.

BLOGS: If you want to start anywhere in social media marketing start with a blog. They are an extremely good way to put up engaging content that informs your audience whilst creating loyalty. You can embed video in it, add images and tackle any subject that you want. It can also go a long way to expressing your company image and solidifying your company brand. Don’t miss this versatile opportunity to achieve a whole heck of a lot.

Keep in mind that while great stories attract new customers, you need to create awesome content that keeps your current and repeat customers coming back for more. One of the most powerful outcomes of Social Media marketing is that those who have purchased from you before can do the job for you and tell your story on social media too!

As for all social media the best way to be engaging is to be passionate. We talk more passionately about things we care about than things toward which we’re ambivalent. We listen more closely to people we care about than to people we don’t know. We’re talking and listening in unprecedented numbers, and our opinions and purchasing decisions are being affected and influenced whether we shop online or stand in the store aisle and weigh our options.

However your consumers purchase, they are more likely to be on their eighth, ninth or ninety ninth touch with you when they finally complete a sale. Bear that in mind when you make your social media marketing campaign – it will make a huge difference. In fact, a difference to the power of seven.