You have heard a millions times by now that social media provides consumers (also know as “people”) with more control than ever before. The increase of control and organic growth created environments with little to no formal rules, for any of the 100+ million participants around the world, consumers and marketers alike.
Well, marketers are people too, and marketers of all sizes are beginning to participate in the proverbial conversation – sans rules. We live in an era of millions of soapboxes. Whether you run a one person company or a global corporation, there is a level of proper etiquette required for your newly acquired soapbox.
Here are a few tips to make that soapbox work for you and not against you.
1) Listen First: The key to all good relationships is honing your listening skills. Skillfull communication cannot happen without skillful listening. Understanding the consumers and communities that you wish to engage is the first step to successfully doing so. Start off on the right foot. Knowledge is power, so to speak.
2) Make A Proper Introduction: Would you do either of the following?
Walk into a room full of people and blurt out “come to my store!” or “come to my meeting next door” ?
Start handing out business cards to every person in the room and walking away without saying hello and introducing yourself?
Of course not! Well that is the equivalent of what many small businesses are doing by trolling targeted communities within social networks and promoting their communities or other commercial interests without actually adding value or otherwise participating. I have noticed an uptick in small businesses and individuals essentially spamming communities with their drive by self promotion tactics (most notably on Facebook lately). The spammy behavior is rampant and getting worse. It waters down the experience for others and just makes you look bad.
You need to actually participate or stand down, pick a side – well, pick participation, and start by introducing yourself the way you would in…dare I say it…a real world social situation.
3) Add Value & Earn Respect: Participating is not enough. You need to actually add value and earn respect. This is a lot harder to do when you are faking the funk or otherwise don’t belong in a community in the first place. Hence the need to participate in an authentic manner. Be a resource. Provide useful information. You can’t make people like you, you must earn it.
4) Check The Ego At The Door: Nobody likes an egomaniac. Get into the habit of providing interesting facts and links, and highlighting other members of the community and even those outside the community. “Give props unto others”. Humility goes a long way.
5) Work Together:Brand and category evangelists are often very easy to find, approachable and open to supporting you. If have truly earned the respect of the community at-large (see point #3 & 4), you can even reach out directly to ask for help. Social media presents many opportunities to work closely with consumers to gain ongoing valuable feedback and insight, to rally support against negative detractors in the various communities, and to help make your products better. Let them help you. After all, that’s what friends are for.
So, what are some of your top tips for not abusing the soapbox?
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