Simple Rules For Social Networking

  |  August 7, 2009   |  Comments

Follow these principles when championing your brand in social networks.

When using social media to the advantage of your brand, there are basic do's and don'ts. Let's consider a few here.

An Interactive Dialogue, Not a Monologue

Years ago, I wrote two columns on e-mail marketing that are particularly relevant to the social media space. In "E-mail: A Dialogue," I make the case that e-mail isn't just another brand messaging device. E-mail needs to be a communication path, not a one-way street. I hate getting e-mails that say on the first line "Do NOT reply to this e-mail" and are sent by noreply@myidioticcompany.com. In the social media world, there's an equivalent to this idea: Twitter accounts that have 5,000 followers but are only following three people, and Facebook accounts that have a million friends but never write on people's walls or interact with their friends in any way.

When Push Turns To Shove

In the column, "When Push Turns to Shove," I discussed the frequency at which e-mails can be sent out and how that frequency is directly related to the e-mail's relevance. For example, e-mailing someone after she almost booked a plane ticket on your site is a good idea: it's relevant, timely, and meaningful. We have a higher threshold of tolerance to receive e-mails like that frequently, whereas non-targeted e-mail is simply spam, and we have a low tolerance for them.

Similarly, companies that only tweet brand messaging are missing the boat. Instead, engage in conversations and send replies to people -- don't merely send corporate promotional messages.

Remember A-C-T

While writing this column, I sent a note off to Jordan Nasser, global director of new media for H&M. (Disclosure: H&M is a client of my agency.) Jordan manages social media for H&M, including an H&M fan page on Facebook that currently has almost 1.2 million fans. When you think about that for minute, that's incredible. As opposed to sending out an e-mail (which costs money), Jordan can reach over 1 million people just by updating his page on Facebook. I encourage you to look at what he has done with the page. Almost every digital asset you can think of has found its way on there. It's truly a great place for fans of H&M to interact with the brand.

Jordan reminded me of three simple ideas that every company should use when interacting via a social networking site, be it Twitter, Facebook, or something else. Of course, being a marketer, he had to give it an acronym: ACT.

  • (A)ctively participate: If you are simply there to promote your brand, but aren't actively communicating with your fans and participating in interactive dialogues, then you are not taking advantage of social media.

  • (C)reate content: Instead of just pushing a sales or brand message, you must create relevant content, news, or information, tailored specifically for that site and target audience. If it's not updated frequently, it gets boring fast.

  • (T)one of voice: If it sounds like a sales message being pushed from corporate headquarters, then that's how it will be perceived. Be aware that there is a fine line between your message and "spam." Sometimes, your message may feel off course from your corporate message, but your brand building will pay off in the long term.

Learn by Watching

Finally, like any other venture, learn by watching.

There are two types of people in the world. There are those who enter a room by throwing open the door, barging in, and immediately starting to talk. Then there are those who open the door slowly, enter the room, take stock of the overall mood, and then adjust their energy level and conversation to fit the already established environment.

Which kind of person are you? If you are the former, I've actually worked for you before. Boy, that was an experience. If you are the latter, you stand a good chance at succeeding in any new interactive experience because you know how to listen and understand the rules of the game before you proceed.

So, when it comes to Facebook, Twitter, and the like, be a user for a while before you are a marketer. Understand the rules of operation each of these interactive platforms implicitly have. Only then will you be an "us" and not a "them" when you try to operate under the guise of your brand.

The ROI (define) of these efforts can be measured the same way we measure other marketing efforts. As long as you put tracking codes in every link you publish on Twitter or Facebook, it should be fairly straightforward to track actual traffic. Like any other promotion, offering special discount codes via these channels is another surefire way to track the success of a specific promotion or social platform.

Questions, thoughts, comments? Leave them below!

Until next time...

Jack

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jack Aaronson

Jack Aaronson, CEO of The Aaronson Group and corporate lecturer, is a sought-after expert on enhanced user experiences, customer conversion, retention, and loyalty. If only a small percentage of people who arrive at your home page transact with your company (and even fewer return to transact again), Jack and his company can help. He also publishes a newsletter about multichannel marketing, personalization, user experience, and other related issues. He has keynoted most major marketing conferences around the world and regularly speaks at Shop.org and other major industry shows. You can learn more about Jack through his LinkedIn profile.

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