Are there really rules for social media? In a world that appears to be a “free for all”, do companies have to follow rules to optimize their market performance?
In this post from @thekraushalsoni, 36 rules for social media are presented (see image below). And, while such images with lists designed to drive traffic are great for building that purpose, in this post I wish to distill the information from this infographic into actionable insights that drive digital market performance.
Actionable insights to drive digital market performance
1. Social media is customer-driven
Several of the rules listed in the infographic demonstrate core principles of marketing, in general, and digital marketing in particular.
Rule # 33, for example, says your fans own your brand. This couldn’t be more true. And, it has always been true. No matter how wonderful you think your brand is, no matter how pleasant you feel your employees are with customers, no matter if you think your competition produces overpriced, underperforming products, unless your fans (and, more broadly, your target market) agree, you’re sunk.
I once attended a focus group where I sat with the client watching the moderator lead members of the group. After tasting the client’s signature product, group members agreed that it was terrible. The client almost went through the one-way glass to throttle group members who obviously were too stupid to realize how superior the product was.
After I calmed the client down, thus averting a heart attack, I explained that the group members were quite articulate in WHY they didn’t like the product. Instead of being upset with them, the client should use their feedback to improve their product to ensure customers loved it as much as they did.
Optimize market performance by listening to customers/ prospects. They are the arbiters of your brand and they hold the key to success. Solve their problems in the most efficient way possible and success is on the horizon. Remember, your market determines what is efficient.
2. Content is KING
Not only is content king when it comes to SEO, but it’s the best tool for reaching your market and guiding them down the conversion funnel.
Rules for social media that match this insight include Rule # 2 and #11.
Understanding what information (or entertainment) your market wants, then giving it to them is key to market performance.
It’s also important to match content to where the customer is in the buying cycle, see the infographic on the right.
Matching content to stage in the buying cycle also requires that you know who your customer is and what they’ve done so you can send them to the right content. A good example of this is Amazon. It’s no accident that they dominate the e-commerce scene with their algorithms that use a customer’s past searches to identify products they’ll like.
Similarly, don’t make content about you, make it about them. Giving your market something gives you permission to tout your brand a little. Increasingly, content should be embedded in the social stream, rather than interrupting the stream with commercial messages. Consumers quickly learn to block out commercial messaging and ignore it almost totally.
For instance, advergaming is increasingly popular. Set up a contest, especially one where everyone wins rather than one where consumers compete against each other, and they’ll help spread your message. And, the best, most believable content is consumer-generated.
Optimize market performance by creating native advertising rather than interrupting the flow.
3. Rules for social media include being “real”
This is somewhat related to insight #2. People want to talk to real people, not brands. So, it’s ok to make a few mistakes in spelling or something. People make mistakes and no one is perfect. In fact, some mistakes are really funny, especially if you’re willing to laugh at yourself.
Optimize market performance by being real and talking to people on social media as if they were individuals, not a nameless group. Encourage sharing and other forms of engagement by sharing and engaging with your visitors and those who mention your brand on other pages. Address both positive and negative comments. Remember, negative comments help you get better.
It’s important, and challenging, to integrate your messaging across platforms and with offline messaging. This can be especially challenging when firms organize marketing efforts such that different groups of employees manage different platforms or when online and offline are managed by different groups.
Without such integration, your message gets garbled and consumers don’t know who or what you are. For instance, consider how car sales get messed up when the brand (GM, Ford, etc) produces high-quality advertising, while the local dealer puts together something really poor quality.
Optimize market performance by working together across marketing efforts to ensure your message is crystal clear.
5. Measure, tweak, repeat
Possibly the biggest of the rules for social media is to MEASURE.
Without measurement, you have no idea where you stand or how to improve performance. Ideally, you should focus on metrics that affect ROI, such as actions taken by visitors, rather than what are called vanity metrics that have little meaning on their own, such as # of followers.
Sure, it’s important to build a large following because that translates (theoretically) into a bigger audience for your message, but it doesn’t mean much all by itself.
For instance, my daughter publishes romance novels under the pen name, Audrey Ravine. While she has a very small Twitter following — less than a thousand (@Audrey_Ravine). Despite the few followers, she’s very engaged with your fans through contests, sharing parts of her book, and interacting with them, to the point where pre-orders for her upcoming release are better than most debut authors. Refer back to rule #3 to understand this.
That’s why we call follower number, as well as many other metrics, vanity metrics. They make you look good, especially to your boss, without correlating to ROI, which is really what you’re doing this for in the first place.
Optimize market performance by developing a set of KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) that effectively match actions necessary for ROI.
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