As marketers move deeper into becoming owners of customer experience, they will begin to see the important role social media marketing play in customer engagement with brands: It facilitates real-time conversations that build closer customer relationships.
Marketers embrace social media because it can help them accomplish many goals. It can increase their understanding of how customers use and value their brand, monitor customer satisfaction, improve customer experience, and launch marketing programs and campaigns. It also helps in the area of product development. Customers are the best source for innovative new ideas, and social media gives them a channel to share suggestions to improve products and business processes.
All of these benefits explain the real value of social media. It’s not trying to figure out how to “sell more” by leveraging advertising campaigns into social media, or trying to assess ROI using traditional marketing measures. The evolution of social media will no doubt create opportunities for monetization. My point is that the opportunity and benefits social media provide are much more than that. The following “Social Media Principles,” summarize what I believe are the most important.
Listen. Social media is all about listening to what people are saying, hearing what is important to them, and engaging them. Listening tells you what people want to know. If you monitor what is being said, it will tell you if a need is being fulfilled or not. If not, then you have something to write about.
Learn. Social media requires an insatiable appetite for learning. If you read reports from analysts and other sources, you will learn what’s working and where people spend their time. It will also spark new ideas and give you insight and perspective. There are dozens of tools and analytics that will help you measure results and decide where to invest your efforts in the future.
Engage. “Social” means engagement. If your goal is to build a huge following of friends or followers, you have to ask: What’s the objective? What will you get in return? An auto-follow tool that gets you thousands of followers may do little to add value to your business if they never engage with you. On the other hand, another school of thought practiced by many avid Twitter-ers is to live by the law of numbers and get as many followers as possible. Who is to say who’s right? Only time will tell—in the meantime, you decide. Interact, engage, and share your expertise with others.
Transparency. Social media is incredibly transparent. What you do and say is visible to the world. Your actions have a direct reflection on your reputation, your company culture, and the quality of your relationships. Personalization and the quality of transparency is one of the most attractive features of social media. Keep in mind that digital media has a long memory—but if you are authentic and honest, you will be just fine.
Live by the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is a principle to live by every day. And in the world of social media, its expected. Take a moment to comment on a blog that someone obviously invested time to research and write if it benefited you in some way. Share valuable information and content with others who would benefit from it. Thank people who open their network to you or make introductions that help you.
Give More Than You Take. Early social media pioneers could have had an attitude of scarcity, but thankfully, they didn’t. Give freely and believe that what goes around comes around. What you give, you get back in spades.
Brand Authenticity. Consistency of brand promise is important across all media platforms. In social media marketing, it is reflected in what you say in forums, the content you develop, the programs you execute, and the relationships you establish with people and businesses. Social media is a rich space to share videos, podcasts, blogs, groups, ebooks, wikis, or other tools to express and share your knowledge, creativity, and humor—whatever your gifts are.
These principles are simple, yes, but they are not always easy to execute. Some require effort and others a great deal of discipline. The early adopters of social media set up a pretty good ecosystem. As we all take a role in its evolution, let’s all do our part to keep it that way.