Marketers struggling with their social media strategy may be having trouble because they haven't yet grasped how to move from being a faceless corporation to a "friend."
According to Firefly Millward Brown, which recently released research into successful strategies within the social media space, many marketers are struggling with translating their brand attributes into a personality that can engage consumers in a two-way dialogue.
"If you enter into the space as a brand, [consumers are] going to ask you to reveal yourself," Rob Hernandez, global brand director at Firefly Millward Brown, tells Marketing Daily. "[Marketers need to] be comfortable hearing about and talking about your flaws, and that's not something that's traditionally done by marketers."
Unlike the approaches of the past, these new "rules of engagement" for social media mean marketers need to adjust the way they approach consumers. Because they have not fully explored how to go about changing their approach, some companies are paralyzed between doing nothing at all and doing only the bare minimum and thinking they're done.
"It has a huge opportunity and potential, but many don't know how to harness it yet," Hernandez says. "They put up a Facebook page and think that will be sufficient. [Consumers] sniff that out pretty quickly, [thinking] it's insincere at best and pandering at worst."
But social media, Hernandez says, are more relationship-based. Therefore, they need much more nurturing and personalization than other approaches. "You have to abandon the corporate mentality and approach and think of it as a person and interact with them as a person," Hernandez says. "You've got to be interesting and be relevant, with a personal connection with [consumers]."
Fostering relationships based on trust and relevance is important because consumers are wary of brands' encroachment into the social media arena, Hernandez says. "Their number one concern was that [marketers] are going to pretend they have figured it out and co-opt the experience," Hernandez says. "They would rather it's a relationship building tool."
To help, Firefly Millward Brown offers 10 rules of social media:
1. Don't recreate your home page in social media: don't rehash the same information people can get elsewhere.
2. Listen first, then talk: create a dialogue
3. Build trust by being open and honest: transparency is key.
4. Give your brand a face: give consumers someone or something accountable for the brand.
5. Offer something of value: give without wanting something in return.
6. Be relevant: don't be invasive without purpose.
7. Talk like a friend, not a corporate entity: speak in simple, casual language.
8. Give consumers some control: be comfortable with the fact that you can't dictate the message any more.
9. Let consumers find you/come to you: brands that seek consumers too fervently will be seen as intrusive and interruptive.
10. Let consumers talk for you: people will advocate for brands they care about.
"Essentially, all social media and social networking are built on inherent circles of trust," Hernandez concludes. "If you want to engender that level of trust, you're going to have to be transparent and be willing to accept the good with the bad."