- Start with a plan, not tactics. Research and build a Social Media Roadmap involving: Audience, Objectives, Strategy, Tactics, Tools/Technology and Metrics.
- “Give to get” – Successful social media marketing programs involve listening and participation. That participation centers around giving value before expecting anything in return. This is not “sales” as you know it. But companies can definitely increase sales as a result.
- Commit resources & time to be successful or you may very well fail. It’s important to forecast labor hours, who, what, when, how and where with the intention of succeeding, not just experimenting. If a social media effort is successful, scalability will be an even bigger issue if you don’t plan for it. Hiring a community manager for example, may not be justified when a social media monitoring program is started or with a new company, but a job req and understanding of the role should be ready in case it’s called for.
- Be transparent with intentions & your identity or you may alienate the very audiences you’re trying to connect with. Objectives, strategy and doing your homework about a community should make it pretty obvious what types of commercial messages are appropriate. Being transparent about intentions might come in the form of stating a purpose: ”Brand XYZ has created this Facebook page to help consumers make better choices about Topic XYZ”. It’s fine if goals are to increase sales, but participation should be focused on providing the kind of value that facilitates sales – not attempting to make sales directly. When is the last time you purchased something other than a virtual cupcake on Facebook?
- Understand, you do not control the message. Old habits die hard and there’s a tendency to want to treat social media participation like advertising where the ability to control messaging is the norm. Once information or media is available on the social web, people will inevitably mash it up, stretch it, pull it and reshape it according to their interests. Brands need to protect their identities, copyright and intellectual property for sure, but rather than “controlling the message” marketers should encourage the mashup and creativity.
- Welcome participation, feedback and co-creation. As comfort levels rise with social web participation, companies will see opportunties to encourage participation with communications, especially with brand evangelists. Developing relationships and community within social communities on the web can facilitate buy in, provide invaluable feedback and crowdsourcing opportunities.
- Metrics should roll up to objectives and objectives should be relevant to the channel. More than a few companies see evidence of other social media efforts ranging from Superbowl commercials on YouTube to social participation during and after President Obama’s campaign, and “want that too”. Direct marketing is the lens through which many social media efforts are first viewed, with a tendency to focus on action “A” resulting in “B” outcome. Social media marketing is more like public relations than direct marketing. It’s more like providing resource “A” results in “action “B” that influences outcome “C”. Metrics for success need to consider the pre-goal performance indicators like number of “friends”, comments, links, etc as well as commercial outcomes influenced by social media participation.
Check out his worst practices as well over at: Best and Worst Practices Social Media Marketing.