Nine Top Tips For Implementing Social Media

February 1st, 2010 @ 2:30 am

Three years ago, I was contacted by a marketing representative of a large European company to write a white paper describing my vision for social media within businesses. Now that the social media boom is looming, I have decided to revise and update my recommendations:

  1. Communities are important, but not every brand has one. Communities are built around a common interest and the need for people to help each other. Just because some people are merely buying products doesn’t mean
    that they are part of a community. Companies need to foster community
    feelings before thinking of orchestrating a community. For detailed
    tips on how to foster communities refer to Hagel and Armstrong’s “Net Gain“.
  2. Don’t confuse comments with collaboration. Collaboration is about working together and from the bottom up. This includes encouraging people from the shopfloor to come forward and letting clients talk to one another. Not all companies are prepared for
    this, and it may take a while before they are.
  3. Avoid the meatball sundae effect: Before launching a social media initiative, make sure your brand can be aligned with the social media spirit of transparency, openness and
    willingness to engage with visitors. If your brand is incompatible with
    this and refuses debate, suggestions and criticism, perhaps social
    media is not for you.
  4. Facilitate, facilitate, facilitate: To create an effective collaborative website, it needs to be kept up-to-date and refreshed continuously, especially at the beginning of the initiative.
    You need to respond to suggestions or comments as soon as they have
    been added. The social media etiquette approves of prompt
    replies because it shows the interest that your organisation has in its
  5. Respect your community and no hard-selling: Social media users come to your websites to gather information, to exchange, share and receive too, but they will not stick around to look at your
    product descriptions, unless they are particularly interesting
    or tempted to provide feedback on them. If you want to sell your wares
    on social media, use permission marketing and disclosure.
  6. Great causes can work wonders: It helps to think big and adopt a stance on the big questions. If all you do with social media is talk about yourselves and your company, you will attract a
    limited amount of traffic. A great example is Kaiser Permanente’s story on its fight in favour of healthier eatin....
  7. Think user-benefit vs. company-benefit: Put others first and your business interests and objectives second. Your tone of voice has to be very straightforward and very honest and you have to
    avoid patronizing your visitors.
  8. Openness, transparency and disclosure: Collaboration implies transparency. Avoid creating fake blogs, fake posts and fake reviews at all cost. Infiltrating social media with your hard sell
    message is frowned upon and will be detected quickly by the people you
    are trying to reach. Check the SMBC disclosure page for details.
  9. Execution is everything. An effective social media initiative requires a strong company commitment involving many different people in the organisation. The more commitment you get from
    the people you work with, the more it shows through to your audience.

Yann Gourvennec is head of internet and digital media at Orange Business Services. He is also one of the few European members of the blog council.

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