Applying Dating 'Dos And Don'ts' To Social Media Marketing
We're all familiar with pre-date jitters: That ridiculously awkward, dissonant feeling of hope (not another dud who loves long walks in the park and his Chia Pet garden) and fear (please don't let this one stalk me in Walgreens).
These feelings mirror those often felt about engaging in social media marketing. Believe it or not, dating and social media marketing have more in common than just the jitters.
The bad news? We have to overcome the anxiety of getting up close and personal with our consumers. The good news? If you've ever gone on a date, you know more about social media than you might think.
Let's break it down by comparing common dating "dos and don'ts" to best practices for social media outreach.
Know where you stand
Before accepting that first date, we ask questions -- and lots of them -- to gauge potential. Who is he? How old is he? What does he do for a living? For fun? Does he call his mother regularly? And so on.
The next questions are usually about you. What does he think about me? Why does he want to go out with me? Was this his idea?
Regardless of the specific questions, it all comes down to knowing what we're getting into -- and with whom -- before engaging for the first time.
The beauty of the digital space is that we can use it to collect that information upfront in an easy and cost-efficient manner. So rather than pulling our hair out trying to decide which of the barrage of social media tools to use, we first listen and learn from what consumers are saying about our brand, competition and respective category, then develop social media strategies from those insights.
Check your ego at the door
The reality is, consumers govern the digital universe and if we're going to engage in personal, human dialogue; we need to take a personal and human approach.
Similar to a first date, if you talk only about yourself, don't let the other person get a word in and -- worse -- act as if you don't care about what he or she has to say; you can bet you won't get a second date.
It's the same when engaging with consumers through social media. It's not just about you. We can no longer communicate with our consumers via one-way, controlled monologue. Instead of assuming that consumers live and die by our brands, we now have to understand what our brands mean -- physically and emotionally -- to our consumers and work to weave our brand into the fabric of their lives in meaningful and relevant ways.
The best traditional marketers have always understood this; social media makes it imperative.
Don't play games
Don't wait two days after a date to call. Don't say you're going to call if you're not going to. Don't lie about what you do for a living or how much you make. Don't even lie about liking lobster, if you despise seafood.
The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) has a code of ethics centered on transparency. Never "flog" or participate in blogs and discussions forums under an alias. If this is happening, you need to stop it immediately, fire the agency that recommended it and report them to WOMMA.
Give your consumers the respect they deserve as fellow human beings by being candid and honest. That applies -- even when you're in the wrong. Honesty and transparency are how you build trusted relationships in the digital space.
Take it to the next level As Dr. Phil says, "keep the relationship interesting." Reward consumers for their time and attention. Make your time together engaging and fun. Spice it up from time to time. Most important, respect that your brand image is dictated by the consumer and learn to value his or her point of view.
Respect breeds rapport, rapport breeds relationships and relationships breed loyalty. At the end of the day, building loyalty is what will put you ahead of the game.
If you don't know what consumers are saying about you in the social media space, find out.
Similarly, if you don't have a social media policy, create one for your company. Not only are your consumers active in the space, but your employees -- as consumers themselves -- are as well. To leverage social media effectively, your entire company -- from the receptionist to the board of directors -- needs to know the "dos and don'ts" of being active in social media.