Friday, June 4, 2010

Social Etiquette (or How to Not Piss Off Your Fan Base)


Reputation management is not new and yet so many brands fail to honor the discipline in the social media space. Now more than ever, social media demands brands embrace a human voice and consider the way those around them interpret their actions and commentary. Think Emily Post. Social etiquette icons know the nuances of human emotion and how attitude and action impact perception.

All this to say, I've pissed people off. Inadvertently, of course. As most of us working in the space can attest, there is a great deal of experimentation that goes into deeply understanding and recommending social strategy, tactics and tools to our clients. This experimentation can lead to a maelstrom of social hand-slapping. We do this to learn for our clients and understand voice executions and limitations in the social spaces, the inner-workings of new tools and to study crowd sentiment. Because of my social sacrifice (all for you), I have learned there are three clear rules for managing a social media reputation and, if you follow them, your community and your mother will be proud.
  1. Be authentic. Brands must be themselves and have a clear, very human relationship with their social communities. Product pushing and promotion will harm authenticity. Insider sales tips and contesting is attractive to a fan base, however cannot be the only form of communication shared in the space. Think of that guy at your friend's dinner party always trying to sell you insurance. He's really boring, not to mention untrustworthy. Don't be him.
  2. Be original. Inspiration is the name of the game. Brands that lead with new thinking and engage and excite with participatory campaigns and thought leadership win. People want to be pleasantly surprised. Intrigue and unexpected delights inspire. Think of a new love, where treats like roses and love letters shake up perception and win hearts. Do that with your community and they will love you forever.
  3. Be grateful. Thankfulness is an elementary human trait. We are inculcated from toddlerhood with reminders to say "thank you" at every turn. Why then, when brands come to the social space do they forget that rudimentary rule? It's simple, be thankful for the community growing around your brand. Honor them with replies, special access and inspiration. Always thank them.
People are the medium. Human interactions fuel marketing today, making reputation management a must for brands. Social etiquette is more than just a list of rules for minding manners, it is the highly visceral basis for human interaction and all the nuances and social cues that feed it. And being successful in the social media space requires an intensely engaged, attuned brand persona that leads with authenticity, originality and thankfulness.

Are there others? What social etiquette tips do you think brands need?

8 comments:

WILLIAM said...

I would answer but I am busy looking up the word inculcated in the dictionary.

Gretchen said...

William, it's right next to smartass. Thank you for your comment, by the way.

Steve Haase said...

Gretchen, it seems that nestled between originality and gratitude is delivering value.

Content marketing is as important as relationship marketing these days. If someone has an affinity for Nike, they probably would also be interested in learning more about running faster, going further, jumping higher.

Offering free training from experts on how to do this could not only enhance someone's athletic prowess, but endear Nike to their fan base in ways that merely being social never could.

Gretchen said...

Beautiful point, Steve. I see good content as inspiration for the community. And I love that you are calling out "content marketing" as a core theme for our practice. Indeed, when social takes someone and moves them to brand-inspired experience, that is when they become a true believer, a devoted disciple for the brand. Thanks for the thinking -- you should call Nike;)

Steve Haase said...

Thanks for the nudge, Gretchen! Do you have any connections there? :)

DennyR_Guari佳穎 said...

我愛那些使自己的德行成為自己的目標或命定的人........................................

Miss Galino said...

this is still such a mistery to me - why are people so much more different (in their behaviour) here, than they are in real life?

just like you said, the one offering you insurance all the time and trying to win your friendship with such measures is simply annoying.

and even though i agree that being thankful is important, translating it into "not taking everything for granted" would be even more precise. i don't think that peopkle should thank me for commenting on their posts (many, many do that). do you thank someone for their decision to talk with you? you can thank them for their time, but that really doesn't translate to blog world.

i think people really tend to complicate simple things. and it is all in the name of pursuing traffic and popularity, i guess (?). and at that moment, authenticity is lost.

Gretchen said...

Miss Galino, your comments are very good. In fact, the fellow above you, Steve Haase, wrote a post about "stupidity," or simplicity, being a key factor in social media. It is simple. I'm amazed at how being human proves to be such a difficult practice for many. We are all here together because of human connection. When the space is used for other means, it does, indeed, lose authenticity.

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