Are You Feeling The Love In Social Media?

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 Top CMO, Content Marketing and Digital Marketing Influencer, an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula" and he is the CEO and Founder of Marketing Insider Group, a leading Content Marketing Agency . 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 helps build successful content marketing programs for leading brands and startups alike. Subscribe here for regular updates.

8 thoughts on “Are You Feeling The Love In Social Media?

  1. Nice that you acknowledge the importance of this. The only thing I would add is; make sure what you are doing — in whatever social arena you’re involved in, aligns with your soul purpose. In other words, are you doing it because you “love” it or because of the potential to make good money?

    1. Gavin,

      You just made my day with that. I totally forgot about that. And yes. It has to be genuine! My favorite line: “I’ve changed and you haven’t!” Funny and scary all at he same time.

  2. I’m so glad you are emphasizing a brand having a face. I keep telling my clients this but they are so hung up on their logos. In in Social Media people want to do business with people a face not logos – I’m seeing some companies Best Buy Twelpforce for instance – where a tweeter’s profile picture (person you can see their face) holding he Twelpforce logo.

    Lisa Ann Landry
    Vibrating positive energy…what are you vibrating

    1. Thanks Lisa! People love faces. We’re born with that but you are right that it is important to remember that even simple shifts to bring faces as the images of our companies can go a long way!

  3. I still struggle with the line between promotion and opinion but not as it pertains to governance. I find myself second-guessing sometimes whether I should mention a blog I wrote or re-tweet something I find interesting. Will people take it seriously since I work for SAP? Or will I just come across as another shill for the company? Sometimes, there’s no way to avoid appearing sales-y no matter how sincere the social media gesture might be.

    1. It’s a tricky one that I think we all struggle with when trying to fnd our voice. I always harken back to my audience and try to ask first “what do they want to hear?” or “what will be helpful to them?” I often share the best examples of SAP company news, marketing and communications activities as good examples or out of pride and passion. I am hoping that this keeps it from being too pushy. It’s further complicated by personal vs. professional brand goals but I think these can support each other as long as we never go too far either way. That’s what works for me.

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