Social media is reinventing marketing, communications, and the dissemination of information. While businesses now have access to these rich channels, the true promise of social media lies in the direct connections between people who represent companies and the people who define markets of interest.
Today, many businesses approach this with the establishment of social media guidelines and policies. This is indeed an important step, and not one worth economizing. But it’s also not enough. I highly recommend establishing official procedures that remind representatives of the importance and privilege of engagement.
The openness of popular networks is trivial. Any business can join and create a profile. It’s the devices we employ, the intentions that motivate engagement, and the value we offer that dictate the significance of the brand-specific social graphs we weave. It’s a simple investment in either visibility or presence. In social media, just like in the real world, presence is felt.
As social media continues to evolve, defining the “rules of engagement” will encourage thoughtful interaction that benefits the business, brand, customer, peers, and prospects at every touchpoint. In the end, we earn the attention, relationships and business we deserve. The following is an outline of best practices to help you craft a practical set of rules to guide representatives as they engage.
1. Discover all relevant communities of interest and observe the choices, challenges, impressions, and wants of the people within each network.
2. Don’t just participate solely in your own domains (Facebook Fan Page, Twitter conversations related to your brand, etc.). Participate where your presence is advantageous and mandatory.
3. Determine the identity, character, and personality of the brand and match it to the persona of the individuals representing it online.
4. Establish a point of contact who is ultimately responsible for identifying, trafficking, or responding to all things that can affect brand perception.
5. As in customer service, representatives require training to learn how to proactively and reactively respond across multiple scenarios. Don’t just put the person familiar with social networking in front of the brand.
6. Embody the attributes you wish to portray and instill. Operate by a code of conduct.
7. Observe the behavioral cultures within each network and adjust your outreach accordingly.
8. Assess pain points, frustrations, and also those of contentment in order to establish meaningful connections.
9. Become a true participant in each community you wish to activate. Move beyond marketing and sales.
10. Don’t speak at audiences through canned messages. Introduce value, insight and direction with each engagement.
11. Empower your representatives to offer rewards and resolutions in times of need.
12. Don’t just listen and placate -- act. Do something.
13. Ensure that any external activities are supported by a comprehensive infrastructure to address situations and adapt to market conditions and demands.
14. Learn from each engagement and provide a path within the company to adapt and improve products and services.
15. Consistently create, contribute, and reinforce service and value.
16. Earn connections through collaboration and empower advocacy.
17. Don’t get lost in translation. Ensure your communication and intent is clear and that your involvement maps to objectives created for the social web.
18. Establish and nurture beneficial relationships online and in the real world as long as doing so is important to your business.
19. "Un-campaign" and create ongoing programs that keep you connected to day-to-day engagement.
20. "Un-market" by becoming a resource to your communities.
21. Give back, reciprocate, and recognize notable contributions from participants in your communities