the three keys to social media marketing

[The “Life Is Too Short” print. The image was the first one I sent out on “Hugh’s Daily Frickin’ Cartoon”. UPDATE: As of January, 2010, I am no longer publishing new cartoons on gapingvoid. From now on, “Hugh’s Daily Frickin’ Cartoon” is the place to see them, Thanks!]

1. Figure out what your gift is, and give it to them on a regular basis. 2. Make sure it’s received as a real gift, not as an advertising message 3. Then figure out exactly what it is that your trail of breadcrumbs leads back to.

Every weekday morning I send out out a new cartoon to my e-mail list.

My daily “gift” to the world, as it were…

One gift per day, that’s my quota. Anything more and I get too swamped. I also work hard to make sure that it feels like a gift on the receiving end. I try to put some heart and soul into the exercise, otherwise people would unsubscribe in droves.

If enough people like the gift, it’ll build up goodwill, they’ll tell their friends, and the list will grow. The more the list grows, the more people discover the trail of breadcrumbs that leads back to the work I actually get paid for.

And even if people don’t follow the breadcrumbs the vast majority of the time, that’s OK, too. I’m happy if people just dig my work, just value the gift. Not everybody’s in the market for what I do for money- I’m not in the market for everything my friends do, either. That doesn’t mean I don’t value them or their gifts highly. It cuts both ways.

It can’t be selfish. It can’t expect something back in return. It can’t huckster. People can tell, you see…

Everything I do now professionally begins with the act of gift-giving. You?

1. Figure out what your gift is, and give it to them on a regular basis. 2. Make sure it’s received as a real gift, not as an advertising message. 3. Then figure out exactly what it is that your trail of breadcrumbs leads back to.

Just do these three things, and all your social media marketing dreams will come true, I promise.


  1. It took me around a year of receiving Guillebeau’s newsletter before I bought anything from him.

    I’m also the cheapest person that I know.

    It takes time to build up that trust.

    In contrast, I bought Ignore Everybody about two weeks after I first heard about it. But that might’ve been because Godin pumped it.

    Thanks for the gifts, Hugh.

    • A year? That sounds about right… it does take time, indeed.

      A lot of my online friends went on to become published authors. And it still takes me MONTHS to get around to buying their books, most of the time…

  2. Hugh,
    I trust you completely on your 3 points.

    Unconditional giving away your gifts is the way. Seems, so easy at first sight, yet so difficult to live it up.

    R.E.S.P.E.C.T. for sending out newsletter daily, I know what effort and energy it takes to “walk the talk”…

    Stepping into “giving land” too.
    Let’s see where the road will take me, so far I am enjoying every minute of it.

    Even tough I do sometimes feel like “alien” by mistake dropped here in this planet, but I guess that is part of the deal;-)

    You know the feeling;-)


    • I completely agree with this! First of all, people will not trust you if your gift is not unconditional. I feel like everyone is soo hyper sensitive these days that you have to make sure every effort you make is truly genuine. It is so important to build up that respect and trust.

  3. Thanks for this exceptionally clear reminder that creating value is the bottom line. All else, is really spam, interruption and manipulation. Figuring out your gift is humbling but essential, but until you have a clear concept of how you are making something better for someone else, the rest is just noise.

  4. Hmmmm… I started to post images to flickr and include short humorous fictional (sort of) stories with them. People seemed to like them, found them funny even, and then I realised I was doing this for free…. so I stopped. Being someone who bought and lapped up ‘Ignore Everybody’ and who also subscribes to your newsletter and gets to enjoy your free cartoon everyday, well, this bit of advice is perhaps something I should be taking more note of….

    I did have fun, why do I need to monetize it so soon?

    • Mark, I don’t think there’s a law that states that the trail of breadcrumbs HAS to lead back to some sort of money/product deal.

      But I thinks it’s good to be clear about what you want from the experience… Although, as was true in my case, it can take YEARS to find that clarity.

      • After reading ignore everybody 3 times! (im now on my fourth), I went ahead and started a blog (as suggested in the book), and I love that you just said that it can take YEARS to find that clarity, I was stressed out about not having it, but now I know it has to be developed…Once again thanks, hugh!

  5. Did I say so soon? Of course I meant ‘so soon, if at all’ 😉 But I am clear what I want from it… lots of fans and the adulation of millions!!!! Haha… okay, maybe not that, but I like making people laugh, I like widening my circle of friends, and I want to be able to support myself doing what I do.. yeah, I know, keep the day job as your advice goes, and I see the importance of that and the day job keeps ticking along… but, you know, in an office 9-5 and all that.

  6. Well said. 3 simple things. The breadcrumbs piece is what ties it back in for businesses who finally grasp the first two. You eventually would like them to go somewhere or do something. You have to earn their trust and interest before you can ever hope to earn their business.

    Thanks for the post Hugh, and I REALLY dig your artwork.

  7. Great concept! If you think of the content of your blog / website as a gift to readers on the Internet, and focus sincerely on giving good, quality content (rather than just advertising) you will be more interesting, and you will achieve the acceptance and appreciation that most people enjoy. Thank you for sharing.

  8. Brilliant, spot-on, and True

    It’s about much more than just social media or marketing, you can try leaving out these words and see how far that gets you

    I really love how the concept of “unconditionality” is slowly becoming an obvious and natural part of our lives


  9. The releasing is the hardest part, Tom Petty aside.

    Giving without expectation is easy in theory. I try each day to do so. What I haven’t figured out is what is of value and to whom?

    Social media for me right now is the swirling silt displaced by a rock thrown into a pond. I just need to watch for the bubbles to see which end is up. Chart a course. Make a difference. Give.

    Breathe first.

  10. High Hugh! Thanks for your daily gifts, they’re easy to receive with zero expectation… I feel free pay them forward when they fit for the people I forward them to.

    I bought Ignore Everybody because it fits for me… I bought it from Ebay ‘cos Ebay fits for me, I have an ebay account and am unwilling to open yet another internet account for Amazon.

    Feels like I’m finally fitting in… ditto to thank YOU for sharing your MAD world. Your daily-action-discipline is much appreciated.

  11. I became a Huge Hugh Fan after being involved with I receive his daily messages, and I “get” them. I also bought one of the Linchpin pieces of art because I lead a local group (Think Tank Tribe) comprised of people who are determined to make a difference. Or die trying (sort of – but I like the T-shirt!).

    We are meeting this afternoon, and I hope the print will arrive in time for the meeting. I would love for my Linchpins to see it…and I may end up using it by passing it around. Or not.

    Thanks, Hugh, for being so…you.

  12. This is definitely an interesting article. I truly appreciate it and indeed a gift, although the three things are quite challenging. But it brought me an insight that would definitely help me and my friends I will be forwarding the message to make each of our social media marketing dreams come true!

  13. Giving is always rewarding, more than anything. But we have to repeat it to ourselves on a daily basis. I put notes like I don’t have to but I want to do soemething in my calendar everyday.

    Great art and inspirational text here, definitely going to look at your new website.

  14. […] Lo más leido ad adidas advert animacion anuncio arte audi axe banksy btl canarias cartel cerveza cine Coca cola commercial Diseño facebook Fotografía frase graffiti Guerrilla Ilustración logo marca Mattias Lindberg motion graphics mtv Nike pantone poster Publicidad publicidad de guerrilla publicidad guerrilla redes sociales shirt spot stop-motion street art street marketing tetris tipografia video viral war Tres claves de la publicidad en medios sociales Febrero 21, 2010, 1:24 pm Archivado en: Frases, Marketing, Publicidad | Etiquetas: 2.0, Publicidad, redes sociales Los tres puntos claves de la publicidad en medios sociales según Hugh MacLeod  (the three keys to social media marketing) […]

  15. Wow. Thanks for that.

    As someone who has a new blog and is trying to build readership, I’m constantly fighting with myself over “what is recommended” to market the blog versus what I feel personally comfortable doing. Sometimes in marketing efforts, I do feel like I’m going out of my comfort zone.

    Thanks for affirming that authenticity, and alignment with my own values should always be my highest priority.


  16. Wow I did it before I read Hugh’s advice, nice karma :) I give the gift every day – a sample of beautiful art or just send it to someone else as a gift. It is more blessed to give but an honour to receive. Toni in Victoria, BC

  17. This is definitely an interesting article. I truly appreciate it and indeed a gift, although the three things are quite challenging. But it brought me an insight that would definitely help me and my friends I will be forwarding the message to make each of our social media marketing dreams come true!

  18. The universe is wired with the electricity of God, and each of us is a lamp. It doesn’t matter the size or shape of the lamp; it only matters that the lamp is plugged in. With every prayer, every thought of forgiveness, every meditation, every act of love, we plug in. The more of us who plug in, to more the darkness of the world will be cast from our midst. Today, let’s all increase love’s wattage!

  19. ‎5 minutes meditating in the morning literally blesses your entire day. It expands time, calms your nervous system and restores your cells. It makes forgiveness easier because it opens the heart. It interrupts the ego’s proclivity for attack and defense, retrains your attitudinal musculature and delivers you to inner pe…ace. Plus, it is free.
    Now our excuse for not doing it is what, exactly…?