Wednesday, July 16, 2008
We're creating a new media composed of blogs, Twitter, online friends networks, people search, local search, information hubs, peer-to-peer recommendation systems, web videoconferencing and live event streaming, social bookmarking,
Social media encompasses new realities, new rules, and new marketing ideology. The instantly or eventually doomed is alien to us. Clients and bosses do not trespass against our hard-won expertise into social networking etiquette and pragmatics. We know what works. They don't.
What Works in Social Media:
* altruism: non-commercial sharing, caring, path blazing
* striving to understand and assist customers: open to positive and negative feedback
* user observation testing based marketing strategy
* customer-centric everything
* respect for consumers and suppliers
* risk-taking and innovation
* contributing free advice to the online community
* being a genuine regular guy in the online community
* not having "squeeze dollars out of you" mentality
* transparency, honesty, integrity, authenticity
* earned and consistent credibility
* not being "all business, all the time"
* low key, sporadic promotions
* accurate product details and benefit statements
* uncompensated opinions of your products by real users
* demonstrated expertise that seeks to help
* conversational marketing, founded on sincere desire to interact and learn, not just preach and promote.
The voice of the customer and average person are getting louder, stronger, and more pervasive. You must figure out how to deal with this and take advantage of opportunities...while maintaining your high standards and lofty business principles.
Fakes, con artists, and greedy Enronish exploits are sensed quickly in social media. Tricking people into visiting your ecommerce site or blog will only backfire, destroy your online reputation, and drive you out of business.
Firmly stating how we propose to implement social media marketing, we have certain boundaries. We will not violate our standards. Some compromise on design, site architecture, content, and strategy is possible, but within clearly demarcated zones.
What principles do you exalt and consider non-negotiable? What do you refuse to budge on? Will you do anything, short of prison term criminality, to please a client? Where do you draw the line? Have you explained your ethical limits to your boss? Have they expressed their business conduct standards to you?
If you'll do anything, just to keep the paychecks rolling in, you're disposable. Why commit a dis-service to your employer and your own conscience and portfolio? Implementing bad practices is digging a hole that you'll both fall into sooner or later. Putting your foot down, hard, and without retraction, is a marketable integrity that you won't regret.
Customers are seeking companies that are trustworthy, reputable, and ethical.
Do one thing that's not kosher, and your reputation and customer retention goes down the toilet. We all know of "Dell Hell" and many other instances when fighting the tide of user empowerment resulted in significant destructions for the company. Let's not rub salt in the wounds. But there's no getting around it: bad practices generate bad results.
Being number one on a search engine results page is not the most mission critical goal. Nor is raking in tons of fast, easy cash -- that's acquired at the expense of bad will. Negative buzz in social media will eat you alive, if you're lax about your standards and strategies. Reputation management is a growing industry because of the volatile nature of social media.
Even if a bad practice produces, at first, a little burst of cash or traffic, is it worth it in the long haul?
How you feel about the future you want to be in is what largely determines it for you. A strong vision of the correct path, and it's implications, is what business needs today. Social media marekting, because it's beholden to the online community members for its very existence, must be most Not Marketing, and certainly must be Not Bad Practices Marketing!