Social media channels are not the brand’s marketplace to sell things. Social media channels are meeting places where people come to share their lives with people who have similar interests and views. These channels are family reunions, living rooms, kitchens and the water cooler at work—any place where gossip, idle chatter, political views, religious beliefs and opinions about what you do and don’t like are shared. Brands and businesses are not invited guests, people are. As a social strategist in social media, you must be a person and not a business entity. You must take advantage of the fact that you are real.
Social media channels are overflowing with undisciplined and unstructured data that can benefit you and your brand in understanding the mood and intent of a global society. As a social strategist you need to be a technologist, data scientist or have those skills and resources at your disposal on your social team. Your ideas, actions and strategies will be based on the analytic insights the data provides. I tend to look at data as the big customer relationship management (CRM) resource in the sky. An interesting point to note is what is said on the web will always be on the web. Timelines, trending reputation analysis, granular audience segmentation, etc. can all be associated with its specific set of data to produce actionable results and strategies to deal with those results, both good and bad.
Being a social strategist opens doors to try just about any strategy you want, provided you pay attention to the rules above. Experimentation, disruptive innovation, crowdsourcing events, agile strategies tied to customer mood, localized meet and greets ramification strategies, and just about any other “social” event is fair game. It is not the brand pushing products at the group; it is you, the social strategist, pulling in the crowd to engage others with like interests.
A great analogy of the desired atmosphere you are trying to create is the business of online dating services. They have a booming business by leveraging the key strategy of building a people-to-people business. All they do is facilitate the ability for individuals to meet and discuss likes and dislikes. In marketing terms, if the match is a good one, you convert an inquiry into a lead, a conversion and a buying customer. The business model is infallible and successful.
As a brand, you are not marketing a people-to-people relationship per se, but you can create a people-to-people event with the brand social strategist as the facilitator guiding the discussions and calls to action. The people in attendance will engage others in attendance in discussion about what you say, resulting in conversions. The rule is simple: ordinary people trust the opinions of ordinary people much more than they trust brand advertisements and hard sell tactics.
I will wrap this up with a simple story. I had a bad user experience at a popular chain restaurant. Two things happened as a result. First, I have never gone back to the restaurant. Second, I told all my family and friends about my bad experience. As a result, most of them have never gone back to the restaurant either and view it with disdain. That is the fickle nature of social strategy and society. It only takes one seemingly unimportant user experience gone bad to tear down months of work that built the brand’s reputation. As a social strategist, you have to pay attention to the smallest details when organizing your marketing campaigns.
Over the next few posts, I will share some of my experiences with you along with the results obtained.