Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Social Media Marketing Best Practices

I found the link to the Beeline Labs best practices white paper on a post by Lois Kelly on iMedia Connection. It’s a good post, with strategic advice that closely parallels the findings reported in the white paper. I’d encourage you to download the entire white paper from the site.

I was most impressed with two sections; Biggest Surprises and Most Common Mistakes. Those are especially important, and I’d like to recap them briefly.

Biggest Surprises:

Customers want to advocate. People love to talk about experiences they’ve enjoyed; make it easy for them to talk about your product, your website, whatever.
• The value of early warning and speedy response. The sooner, the better. Otherwise, the damage may have already been done.
Better planning. Get customer insight and incorporate it into planning and decision making.
“No bad experiences.” Here’s what the report says, “Almost all companies said they were surprised at how few, if any, negative experiences had occurred from engaging in social media. While legal and management are often concerned about “what if someone says negative things about the company,” this has rarely been an issue.” Hear, hear!

Most Common Mistakes:

• Ill-defined purpose. That’s a tactful way of saying that companies start social media programs with no clear objectives.
• Disconnected silo. Social media isn’t a scary animal that needs to be isolated. It needs to be integrated with all other communications programs.
• Denial. Refusal to believe what is being heard in social media. Management wants “hard data.” By that time it may be too late. . .
• Just another “channel.” Their point is that social media should not be seen as just a new way to push out content, it should be seen as a way to reach out--to create and sustain relationships.
• Not using the right talent. This is a serious marketing (and pr) activity and should be treated as one.
• Listening but not acting. Need I say more???
• Over-engineering a process or workflow. Use automation to make the processes more efficient, but don’t let it separate the human beings from the social content.

Now that you’ve read this, don’t you want to read their Advice for Suceeding (pages 16 and 17)? Some of you might also find their advice for working with your legal department (p. 9) helpful.

It’s good news that there are enough companies with enough experience to contribute to the establishment of best practices. Now more of us should be practicing them!

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