Written by Rahna Barthelmess originally for Southworth Blog
…which means that the rules of etiquette apply. If you want to build your brand using social media outlets, remember your table manners.
Use the right utensils.
Those unaccustomed to fine dining can get overwhelmed by the broad array of silverware—which fork should I use for salad and why are some utensils above my plate? Many marketers who are just entering the social media world can feel the same way. There are lots of digital tools, and a savvy marketer needs to understand the role each plays in your overall marketing mix. Facebook and Twitter are great tools to build traffic to a website that can provide more information. A blog can provide a forum for direct interaction with your customers, and YouTube is great for product demonstrations, and sites like Pinterest leverage the viral nature of the internet.
Be a good conversationalist
Be engaging. Your customers want to interact with your brand, talk with you, learn from you, and buy from you. What do you have of value to share? The only way to build “followers” or “fans” is to offer something they want. In social media , content is king, so be sure that you are offering strong content. Typically, it is good manners to follow the 80/20 rule; offer 80% content that is helpful, useful and focuses on your customers and only 20% that focuses on you or sells your product or service.
Keep your elbows off the table
Don’t be invasive. Engage with them without overpowering them. If you send messages, posts or tweets too often, you will become a nuisance. Do some informal research with some of your customers to find out how often they want to hear from you. Each industry will be different, so take the time to determine the proper frequency of communication for your brand and your industry.
Don’t take too large a portion of any one food
Understand that social media is just one vehicle for engaging with your customers. Because it’s the latest and greatest tool, many marketers may become overly dependent on it. It is a great tool to use, but it needs to be strategically planned as a part of an overall marketing strategy. Traditional media like TV or radio still has its place. A personal letter or direct mail piece, printed on fine quality business stationery may also be part of your brand-building efforts. Together they provide an overall impression of your brand that is bound to be memorable.
Be respectful of others
If you follow these rules, you will find a logical, balanced way to incorporate social media tools into your marketing mix to build a lasting impression on your customer. To grow your brand, engage your customer with compelling content consistently and you will grow your business.
I read a theory about social media strategy today at Diana Huff’s B2B Marcom Writer’s Blog
It’s an excellent post (and subsequent conversation) about how strategy is over-rated when it comes to social media.
Her advice? Don’t try to get super-sophisticated with some complicated social media strategy. She advocates a Nike approach: “Just doit.”
Her argument? We, as marketers (and as human beings), instinctually know what to do when we get in to social situations:
- Be nice to people.
- Answer their questions.
- Respond to what they have to say.
- Post your own take on what is going on around you.
My favorite part of the post is this: “People recognize authenticity and like moths, want to hover near the source.”
I agree that we don’t need to over-think it, but even in her post, whether she knows it or not, she is advocating a strategy: Be authentic.
Here’s a bit of commentary on our highly-networked social media world:
In an interview leading up to this weekend’s golf tournament, this year’s Masters’ champion Phil Mickelson was asked about a Krispy Kreme incident that happened on Monday after winning the coveted green jacket. Phil pulled up to the drive-thru window in his Masters’ jacket (“it was kinda chilly out, so I just grabbed a jacket….”). Phil was fulfilling a promise to his kids that he would get the sugary donut treats once the tournament was over. The woman working the drive-thru that morning recognized him, snapped a picture on her cell phone, and posted it online.
Phil’s comment was that it was just another reminder that “everybody’s media.”
How true. Anyone with a cell phone and a computer can now report the goings-on of anyone else.
To me, there are several lessons in this.
- Always be your best self because you never know who is watching or listening or reporting. For those who were required to read George Orwell’s 1984 in their high school English class, concerns that “Big Brother is watching” were tied to big government and was seen as totally un-American and the ultimate invasion of privacy. Now, of course, we actually have “Big Brother” reality shows and YouTube, where it is not the government who seems to be watching but everyone else. Whenever I counsel people on social media, my biggest caution is, “Don’t put anything up on Facebook that you wouldn’t want to appear as the front headline of the newspaper.” Your boss (or potential future boss) is actually watching, despite what you might think.
- Be respectful of others. The media has laws and codes of ethics to follow as it relates to public figures, and John Q. Public, Reporter-at-Large, needs to honors those same codes. For celebrities and non-celebrities alike, at the very least, the Golden Rule should apply. They may all be new tools, but the same basic principles of human decency still apply.
- Yesterday is gone. There’s a whole new world of power out there. Use this power for good, not evil. Yes, “everybody’s media,” and that has given rise to a world of opportunity for entrepreneurs, empowered consumers who want to engage with their favorite brands, and given marketers a whole new slew of venues for communicating with their target audience.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Feel free to add a comment for any of our articles!
Later this week, I will be training a group of insurance sales agents on the best ways to tap into the power that social media networks can provide, counseling them on how to authentically present themselves to potential clients as a viable solution to the financial challenges they meet. In the training that I do, one of my biggest hurdles is with those who are entrenched in what they have been doing and honestly, if what you have been doing is working for you, keep doing it. Just understand that the world is changing …. everyday …. every minute. Evolution is inevitable, and revolution is always possible!
As pre-work for the discussion, I have asked each one of them to watch the following video to prepare for the session. It was created by Eric Qualman from Socialnomics. While I wish the sources for all the “facts” were given, the spirit of the video is totally valid and worthy of consideration.
Have a digital day!
This is a question that was asked of me the other night during my presentation to the Social Media Club of New Haven, and my answer wrapped up several best practices that we had been discussing.
- First of all, be where your target audience is. The woman who asked the question said that she had the e-mail addresses of 500 to 2000 people with whom she has regular ongoing conversations. She wanted to migrate those conversations onto Twitter in order to streamline her conversations. Unfortunately you cannot convince a consumer to do something they don’t want to do or be somewhere where they aren’t. Fortunately for her, her audience is young, male and very technologically savvy, so the chances are very high that her target audience is already there.
- Take advantages of the tools available: All of the major social networking sites have a functionality that allows you to search your Outlook contacts (for example) and find those who also have a Twitter account.
- Think search. When you write your tweets, be sure to include keywords for the topic about which you would want to be found. If skydiving is your topic, then make sure to include the word skydiving in your tweet. One of the key benefits of Twitter is its searchability, so if you start having conversations about your topic, people will find you.
- Make use of the hash tag (#). When you put a hash tag before a keyword, it allows people to search you even more. The way that Twitter’s search works makes effective use of the hash tag and an easy way for people to find you.
- Add yourself on WeFollow.com: Enter the topics that you talk about so that people will be able to easily find you.
- Make a request: if you have an ongoing conversation via e-mail, and you would like to migrate those folks to Twitter, simply ask them to follow you. Make sure, however, that you make it as easy as possible to follow you. Include the link to your Twitter profile and allow them to follow you with one quick click.
- Be Relevant: If you tweet about topics your target audience cares about, you will grow a following, because Twitter is so searchable.
- Be Realistic: Realize that everybody is different. There is no way for you to use one vehicle to have a conversation with everyone in your target audience. Some people are on Twitter all the time. Some people “don’t get it.” Some people love e-mail , while others will never read their e-mail.
As the marketer, it’s up to you to be where your target audience is. In order to streamline your efforts, you can focus on the majority of people, but I would recommend having more than one communication stream so that people can find you and engage with you in many different ways.
So this week seems to be a “social media week.” I am talking tonight to a group at the Suffield library on how social media can impact your career to increase your exposure, gain new clients, and engage with your customers in new and very rewarding ways. I’ll be chatting about how to express your personal brand in a very digital way. Then, on Wednesday, I’m speaking to the Social Media Club of New Haven.
One question that comes up often has to do with managing all your different accounts. Certainly LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are the big three social networking sites. There may be some other areas where people in your industry are gathering to talk and interact. Each person should examine strategically, what the right sites are for your particular situation. Now, I happen to be on all three, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and yes, there are times when I don’t have time to update or don’t engage in conversations as much as I’d like to. With social networking , I find that the big consideration is time.
The easiest way that I have found to address this issue is to recommend to people that they post something in the morning (or whenever it’s convenient for you), quickly look at those who you do business with or are interested in, and scan the conversations going on, contribute for a set period of time (could be just 5-15 minutes/day). Set time limits for your day for how much time you’ll spend on this, and then move on with your day. It’s so easy for social networking to take over your life. Everyone’s lives are so interesting — the comments that they make can be delightful or inane, but it’s certainly entertaining. You have to actively manage your time. Otherwise you lose yourself in the digital social aspect of life.
One of the tools that I use to help manage this is TweetDeck. Many people find the Twitter feed is a little bit clunky, so Twitter applications have been developed to manage these in a more organized fashion. TweetDeck and HootSuite are two popular applications that help you manage your contacts and your communications. TweetDeck allows you to put people in groupings so that you can follow several different discussions at the same time, and make sure that you don’t miss important conversations that you want to be notified about. They are free to download. Check them out, and let me know what you think. I’m always interested in comments and feedback.
I was presenting today to the Transformers® and G.I.Joe® marketing teams at Hasbro®, to provide guidance on social media best practices. Here’s what I told them:
- Listen: One of the easiest ways to get started is to conduct a Social Media Audit.Find out what people are talking about—you’ll be amazed at what you learn from this purest of all forms of consumer research! Get competitive intelligence, identify new market opportunities, and understand brand and category perceptions.
- Strategy Still Matters: Social Media Tools are just that…tools…one of the biggest mistakesI see is that companies get enamored with the “new-fangled” tools and start to use them…without a thought to the overriding rationale for choosing that tool over any other (traditional) marketing tool.
- Provide Value: You cannot simply shove your marketing message down someone else’s throat. Delight your consumers with added value and they will stick to you like Velco®
- Think Collaboratively: There is no such thing as “us” versus “them” anymore. You build something great with others—your consumers, your customers, your suppliers, EVERYBODY!
- Authenticity & Transparency Are Critical: If you try to be sneaky, you will be outed eventually. That has always been the case, of course, but now, with the internet, the public outrage spreads faster than wildfire, is global and permanently on record.
- Leverage Multimedia: Video is phenomenal.Opportunities abound for you to use sight, sound and motion as never before.
- Seek To Engage—Permanently: Social Media is not a “hit it and quit it” kind of a thing. Even if you look at it from a financial standpoint, you will be convinced that you want to nurture a life-long love affair with your consumer, not a one-night stand.
- Go Beyond Basic Measurement: The digital world can measure everything—how many seconds someone watches a video, how many people comment about a topic, who’s following whom. While marketing has always struggled with presenting senior management with the exact ROI on a TV commercial or newspaper story, social media offers more measurement opportunities than ever before.
Did I miss any? Feel free to add your comments as well!