The Don Draper guide to social media marketing

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I really think we can learn a thing or two from the way Don Draper does his thing on AMC’s Mad Men.

His character may be set on Madison Avenue in the 1960’s, developing traditional advertising messages, but he’s a ‘creative’ first and is all about ‘the work’.
So, grab a stiff drink and take a sip of Don’s social media marketing manifesto…

It’s all about the idea
Don famously once said “give me more ideas to reject” and he’s 100% right. The tools may be endless, the jargon may be annoying, but the idea is everything. ‘Make the client feel how big the idea is’ and you’re 99% there. Social media marketing is no different and anyone who tells you differently simply doesn’t have any confidence in their creative ability.

Proof: The IKEA Facebook showroom – sure, the platform was used cleverly, but it was the idea that you could win items by tagging them which captured the public’s imagination.
Keep your strategy simple
Remember this quote? “That’s not a strategy, that’s two strategies connected by the word ‘and’ – I can do “where the pros go” or I can do “everyone’s welcome,” not both.”

So much debate takes place about social media strategy and how important it is to achieving success. A strategy is not a 50 page deck or a 10-part blog post series, it is a very clear and concise idea of where you want to go. End of.

Proof: Look at the brands making waves in social media marketing and you can bet ‘being useful’ is the backbone of their strategy.

Embrace being the face of the agency / brand

Don wasn’t particularly happy about being the face of the newly formed Stirling Cooper Draper Price but quickly realised he couldn’t do what he was good at (generating great creative) without the clients to represent. It may not be your cup of tea, but people buy people, and one of the the best ways of triggering an interest in your social media marketing capabilities is to actively use them. Comment on prominent blog posts, get involved in Twitter chats, have an opinion on industry trends – showcase your talents.

Proof: Ford’s Scott Monty immediately springs to mind.

Sex sells? No, real insight does.

Don, in response to being told that sex sells: “Says who? Just so you know, the people who talk that way think that monkeys can do this. They take all this monkey crap and stick it in a briefcase, completely unaware that their success depends on something more than shoeshine.”

He’s right. Although the solutions and language used need to be simple so they can be understood and adopted, it doesn’t mean real insight isn’t required. Use your shiny tools only when required, helping them deliver great work not be a substitute for them.

Proof: You might scream ‘Old Spice’ here but it wasn’t simply sex which made that pop.

You are the product

People don’t buy things, they buy feelings. Feelings come from people. Therefore (drum roll) people must be at the centre of your social media marketing efforts.

Proof: Millions to choose from…literally. 

Manage expectations

This is just solid business advice. Don’t go promising 250,000 meaningless fans. Don’t pluck ridiculous blog post mentions out of the sky. Yes, some social media activity can snowball and go ‘viral’ but most of the time, reaching the right people, in the right place, with the right content will get you results that will create the desired impact.

Proof:’s work with AMC and Mad Men is a good example of fitting the right platform with the right product, rather than attempting a wildly broad shot in the dark.

Other guiding principals

Don also knows the value of telling great stories, he knows that nostalgia is a hugely powerful emotion when it comes to our social tree and that understanding behaviour all have a role to play.

What other Don-esque traits do you think apply?

Could you see him in your office tomorrow blogging away?

Pour your comments into the glass below…


  • Reply October 6, 2010

    David Josephs

    I think Don might find social media a little alarming. The truth about his dubious past and the destination of his regular afternoon meetings where he discusses ‘urgent Ugandan business’ with clients might catch up with him quicker…….

    Nice post!

  • Reply October 10, 2010

    Markus Welin

    I must admit, I had some doubts when I red the tagline. “Cheap try ride on something popular”, that was my thought. But I was wrong, it was really a great post with some smart thoughts.

  • Reply October 10, 2010


    Brilliant !
    The kind of post I wished were mine.
    Don Draper is the man.

  • Reply October 26, 2010

    Steve Walker

    Generally, a good clear post and a decent read – thanks.

    Now. Sorry to be picky, but “A strategy is … a very clear and concise idea of where you want to go. End of.” is wrong. An *objective* is where you want to go. A strategy is “how will I get there”. The two are very different. I agree that clear thinking is essential. And a clear objective is a pre-requisite for an achievable strategy.

  • Reply November 8, 2010

    Stephen Hart

    For me Don is a shining example of how to dress and work a room professionally. I’ve spent years trying to encourage sales people and recruiters to dress more sharply and now I simply talk about Don Draper!


  • Reply February 8, 2012


    Too bad IKEA's tagging promotion is against Facebook's Promotions Guidelines ( and could get their FB fan page removed by FB.

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