Wednesday, July 16, 2008

social media marketing best practices

Marketing in the realm of social media is mostly Not Marketing.

By the smart, altruistic use of Not Marketing, you gain credibility and loyalty. Not Marketing consists of identifying the problems, questions, complaints, interests of an online social community. You then fulfill those needs non-commercially, that is: you don't sell them anything, nor do you mention having anything to sell.

You simply join a conversation and contribute your expertise. You answer a question, or share a link to a good treatment of the topic. You are friendly, not pushy. Not hyping any product or service. Not bragging or attacking competitors.

Your generous manner and sincere desire to help will attract customers, fans, partners, recruits, whatever you seek.

Now, with the economy experiencing trouble and decline, is the time to engage in best practices.

Most companies will just try to squeeze money out of online social communities. You will outlast them, no matter what their lucky success seems to be. Don't envy or imitate them. Stay true to the principles of human dignity and business savvy.

As making a living gets tougher for all, we need to lust for more expertise. We must drive ourselves and our companies to excel in more ways than ever before. We can't be imitating personal favorites, we must consider what the bona fide experts and veterans say. What is the best information website in your field? What is the best ecommerce site in your industry?

Gain more skills to upgrade your pay.

If you have insight in a specialty, use blogs and other social media tools to let others know. Share abundantly. Don't focus on making money. Focus on making good impressions on those who will promote you in peer-to-peer recommendations, which are far more effective than advertising.

Social media is not something to exploit.

Social media is not another advertising venue to invade.

Social media members are not seeking to buy anything, nor do they wish to be bombarded with self-promotions or product hype. But, you might be able to sell them something...if you gain their confidence with genuine focus on solving their problems or enhancing their life. Your products do that, don't they?

Then after you've spent a bit of time establishing your expertise, and regular guyness, your true personality and transparency, maybe a few will trust you and listen. You must be totally honest, authentic, and helpful. You can't just toss a link to a product page and hope somebody will bite the bait.

It's far more complicated than that.

Social media is "social me" + a network of other "social me"s.

Social media is a new society with high ideals and stern repercussions. You must understand the ethics and the etiquette. Business As Usual leads to Business As Over. You must evolve with the emerging media tools to secure your position in the increasingly online marketplace.

Only best practices and superior ethics will win the day. These qualities are easily seen and greatly respected in social media. You can't fake them to make a quick buck.

Financial rewards will accrue to the company that has the products that most effectively meet customer needs, and promotes these products with deep understanding of the new media realities.

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