Too many marketers these days confuse what social media is. They don’t understand the difference between the evolution of marketing and what simply works right now. Social media is not just Facebook, Twitter, or even blogging. Instead of thinking about the platform, you have to think about the foundation that makes it effective.
The disconnect occurs when deciding on a social media plan. Telling someone to create a “Facebook strategy” or that they should “leverage Twitter” doesn’t always make sense. Instead of creating a plan around the goals of the campaign some marketers allow the platforms available to dictate the strategy.
So what are fundamentals? There are a number of lessons to be learned, and many come from experience, but here are four that I keep top of mind.
1. Always listen
Far too many brands get so excited about social media that they just jump right in. They don’t take the time to see what’s going on before engaging.
These brands are similar to the guy at a party that yells about his awesome TV while everyone else is talking about cars.
Comcast does an amazing job of listening. Their team monitors Twitter for any mentions of the brand and quickly responds to the consumer. Micro-blogging allows them to continually keep track of what is occurring in their space and offers them a platform to respond.
Social media takes time, patience, and vigilance to see and understand what your consumers are talking about. If you do it right, your consumers will embrace you instead of ignoring you.
2. The brand is public
Whether you like it or not, your brand is in the social sphere, but are you? No longer do you have full control over your marketing message, or what people see.Consider the latest Dominoes fiasco. Two employees and a video camera damaged a multi-million dollar brand. Consumers don’t differentiate between, employees, customer service, and the brand.
Recognizing that fact and being prepared to act can save you from a potentially embarrassing turn of events.
3. Don’t forget a personality
Ever had a friend with no personality? What makes you think a consumer will interact with a corporate brand with no personality?Find a way to humanize your company, empower enthusiastic employees to speak for you. Let your consumers get to know what makes your brand special.
My favorite brand personality is Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos. His humor and style of writing builds the Zappos community, one friend at a time. However, the Zappos personality doesn’t end there. Each employee of the company, as well as their policies, convey how important every customer is and how dedicated they are to building a real relationship.
Invite your customers to join in the company culture, and show off your personality. The average person is so tired of marketers that having an honest ‘friend’ is a breath of fresh air. Use that trust to build a relationship, loyalty, and a connection.
4. Creativity wins
A marketer with an understanding of social media and the need for engagement online tends to think outside the box. They don’t see Facebook or blogging, instead they see vessels for a conversation. Because of that mindset they’re poised to be creative with their social strategy.
One of the best examples of creativity is the Burger King “Sacrifice a Friend” application. The campaign encouraged users to delete 10 Facebook friends and get a free Whopper. It was fun, controversial, and a great idea. Consumers were excited about it, and it generated a huge amount of buzz. In the end, over 233,906 friends were sacrificed.
As more people fight for a shortening attention span, being creative and thinking of new ways to connect online is a necessity for social media marketing. Being fun and exciting motivates consumers to talk and interact, and although being first does not always guarantee success, it sure helps.
The more prevalent social media grows, the more likely a brand is to copy what someone else has already done. In social media, past successes don’t guarantee future results. That’s why it’s so important to understand the fundamentals, so you can take a strategy and evolve it for your specific brand.