Are You Feeling The Love In Social Media?

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With all the love in the air this week, I wondered “what is the relationship between marketing and love?” Obviously love is extremely important to marketing. The objective of marketing is to get people to “know, like and trust” our brand. And the best way to do that is to feed on the basic human instinct to not just be loved but also to return that feeling. Human beings want to love something. And brands only hurt themselves when they don’t deliver.

I think there is no better way to engender those kind of emotions than in Social Media. But I’m not sure how many brands, practitioners or social media consultants get this? How can we enter a relationship where our customers and employees  “feel the love” with social media?

One thing I have found in social media is that most marketers still think of it as a tactic – something to do. When in fact, social media is something to be! Something to live! Isn’t it?

Now I am not saying that every marketer needs to engage across every possible social opportunity. I have found a few core channels where I find the most value: blogging here, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and a few others. But you can’t be in social media if you are not in social media. And to be in it, means to be experimenting with ways to interact. Sometimes those interactions will forge stronger bonds with your connections and sometimes they will not. 

But it’s important to keep trying and learning. There is an awful lot of traditional SPAM happening in this new channel. So how do we create the love? Here are a few questions to ask that have helped me in my social media interactions, both personal and professional:

1. Are your objectives aligned to help your audience feel the love? Is your content instantly valuable for your audience or are you just pushing? What works for me is to think of my social interaction more like sharing. You gotta give to get and stop pushing. When you see something professional that is really well done, congratulate the author and share it. If you see an event that looks valuable to someone in your network, share it. When someone recognizes you for any reason, thank them. Give to get!

2. Does your brand have a face? People don’t love logos, they love to look at faces. Magazines know this so well.  And yet so many brands in social media lead with their logo instead of a face. Maybe you feel the need to have a formal brand presence led by your logo and you don’t want to tie yourself to a prima donna. Then try to cultivate those involved in your brand conversations so your brand has a personality and doesn’t just tweet out press releases.

3. Do your social media guidelines encourage employee participation or discourages it? Face it, many social media guidelines are meant to scare people. This is a fine line and has been the subject of many debates. Some companies police actions through their social governance policy. Some even forbid it still! Every company must seek to limit their risk. But I believe social media guidelines should go further and encourage employees to participate in social media.  As one colleage said to me once “we should only encourage the ones that are good at it.” But I think we should encourage the diversity of personalities across our organizations to express themselves and their personalities.  We should encourage that they list themsleves as company employees who are representng their personal opinion. When we do great things as companies, our employees will amplify the effect.

4. What is the line between promotion and personal opinion? This is where many organizations struggle. If a product designer blogs about the product he is working on, is that promotion or opinion? Should brand governance kick in? It’s a tricky issue. My guidance: weigh the benefits of the employee expression vs. the risks of governance. Attempts at controlling employee expression will discourage activity. If we want our customers to feel the love, our employees need to be able to talk about their passions, as personal opinion. And employees need to respect the brand.

5. Timing: How do you plan for quality vs. quantity of sharing? As in any relationship, quality trumps quantity every time. But an everyday “hello” and “good-bye” kiss doesn’t hurt either. No one cares what you had for lunch. We do care what you are passionate about, what makes you scared and what makes you excited. So share great stuff and be consistent to let us know you care.

6. If the social media phone rings at 4am, do you answer it? Social media response management and crisis plans are so important. I have decided to try to work this into every discussion I have about social media. I believe that if a well-meaning person asks you a question, it is rude not to answer. How many relationship arguments start with ” you just don’t listen to me.”

If you’ve read this far, then I really appreciate the love! Are you feeling the love in social media? What did I miss?

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Michael Brenner is a globally-recognized keynote speaker, author of The Content Formula and the CEO of Marketing Insider Group. He has worked in leadership positions in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as for thriving startups. Today, Michael shares his passion on leadership and marketing strategies that deliver customer value and business impact. He is recognized by the Huffington Post as a Top Business Keynote Speaker and a top CMO influencer by Forbes. Please follow him on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook and Subscribe here for regular updates.

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