Social networks are growing more suspicious of brand marketing and self-promotion. (Think Reddit and the new invite-only Ello whose brand mantra is, “we won’t sell you or sell to you.”) Consumers are irritated about how invasively some brands are turning social media into a virtual marketplace. And in 2015, Facebook will begin cutting the reach of brands’ unpaid posts deemed too promotional.
Bottom line? Brands need to think very carefully about how they participate in social networks. Here are a few suggestions:
- Don’t blatantly push product; imaginatively present great content. Provide useful tips, how-to’s or video tutorials on ways to get the most out of your product or service.
- Don’t post too often. You know how annoying it is when your friends “over post”? Well, it’s the same with a brand. Meaningful content always trumps volume.
- Encourage those employees who are already socially active to take the lead. Authenticity will follow. Even better, are there influencers who can do some of the talking for you? GoPro has been highly successful in breaking through with this strategy.
- Choose your social platform carefully. The immediacy of Twitter has made it one of the more effective ways for consumers to engage with brands. But beware. Consumers have high expectations regarding response time. According to a Lithium Technologies study, 53% expect a brand to respond to their Tweet demand within an hour. (That number jumps to 72% when they have a complaint.) If you’re slow to respond, a happy customer can very quickly become an unhappy customer tweeting his annoyance.
- Add more social tools to your own company site to increase engagement and the kind of relevant interaction your customers are seeking. Embedding capabilities like photo and video uploading, blogs, and customer ratings and reviews can create an experience that moves your audience one step closer to the point of purchase. It also gives you deeper access to consumer data that is currently owned by the giant social networks.
- And, perhaps most importantly, establish “social governance” for your brand. Keepsocialhonest.com offers Ten Rules that are key to “maintaining the integrity of social media for consumers and the effectiveness of these platforms for brands and businesses”.
At the end of the day, as with every social interaction – digital or not – it’s about respect, trust and the value of good old-fashioned manners.