21 Rules of Engagement for Social Media

May 27, 2010

10:14 am

What follows is an excerpt from Engage!, the complete guide for brands and businesses to build, cultivate, and measure success in the new web. It’s available online at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or at a bookstore near you.

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.

The devices we employ, the intentions that motivate engagement, and the value we offer 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.

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. Participate where your presence is advantageous and mandatory, don’t just in your own domains (Facebook Brand Page, Twitter conversations related to your brand, etc.)

3. Determine the identity, character, and personality of the brand and match it to the persona of the individuals representing it.

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 respond in a variety of 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 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.

12. Don’t just listen and placate — 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 business objectives.

18. Establish and nurture beneficial relationships online and in the real world.

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.

Editor’s Note: This article was contributed by Brian Solis is Principal of FutureWorks, an award-winning PR and New Media agency in Silicon Valley. Solis blogs at BrianSolis.com, bub.blicio.us, and regularly contributes PR & tech insight to industry publications. He recently released is third book titled Engaged!. You can follow Brian on Twitter at: @BrianSolis.

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Brian Solis is Principal Analyst at Altimeter, a Prophet company. He is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders, keynote speakers, and best-selling authors in innovation and digital transformation. His new book, X: The Experience When Business Meets Design , explores the importance of experiences and how to design them for customers, employees and human beings everywhere.

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