1. A follower is not always a friend: For any brand with a desire to speak with Gen Y, building a Twitter following is essential but be conscious of putting too much effort behind it. Twitter is a great tool, but keep in mind, 40% of Twitter users have zero tweets and 35% have used it fewer than nine times. Recognize its limitations and know that a twitter follower is not always a friend. Friends stick around. Many twitter followers don't.
2. You know they are your friends when they talk to you: When it comes to social networking sites, brands must be careful about acting like the annoying kid trying to butt into the conversation with their awkward remarks that often are not relevant (you remember that kid from grade school!). People go to social networks to talk to their friends. When a brand invites itself into the conversation, it can seem disruptive and offensive. Like all friendships, it is about quality over quantity and social media is no different. Measure your success on the depth of the dialogue. One good friend is more valuable than 10 acquaintances. Friends in social media are only acquaintances -- until you get them to interact with you.
3. A community builds itself -- brands don't build a community: PopSugar Media's social fabric originated with a large community coupled with premium content. Because of this, we are frequently asked about how to develop a community. By definition, a community is a "group of people with a common background or shared interest within society." People desire to be part of a community because it offers them comfort, understanding, dialogue, laughter and more. To force the building of a community around a brand's interest is self-serving and disrespectful of the social medium. Communities are organically built, typically around credible content -- UGC or premium editorial. Marketers need to work harder at developing smarter ways to be invited into communities that are relevant to the message. It is rare that a brand can successfully build its own community -- but they can tap into an existing one and become part of the conversation.
4. Gen Y are expressionists -- let them do the talking: Let this generation lead the conversation. These individuals were raised to have confidence and strong opinions and they want their voices to be heard. Social media provides them with a platform to do so. As a brand, it's best to let them lead the dialogue. Prompt them with questions, entice them with exposure and give them a chance to share their opinion. When including any social tool, platform or content in your marketing campaign, be generous with the podium and give this audience ample time and opportunity for self-expression.
It is a delicate balance for a brand to be an active and desired participant in this world and not an intrusive and disruptive one. The essential thing is to understand the entire social landscape and to develop a tailored brand strategy that is organic at its foundation.