At the Innotech eMarketing Summit, I attended a presentation entitled “Communication Shifts: How Brands Communicate through Twitter and the Blogosphere” by Simon Salt and Chad Sour (yes, those were their real names). I came away realizing that social media is really a tightrope act. Mastering social media requires that you learn how to play the game with today’s rules, while simultaneously preparing to play within a different set of rules (or a different game entirely) tomorrow to leverage social media for your company. This balance between focusing on the now and looking forward to the future will determine who the real social media “winners” will be.
Today’s rules are important to follow because without abiding by them your brand’s social media strategy will never get off the ground.
There are some rules that apply to all social media platforms today (and probably always will), such as:
- Make people want to follow your company and talk about it with their circle of friends
- Establish a clear company voice (not necessarily your own voice as a business owner) and stick to it
- Know how you’re going to handle negative situations before they arise and then stick to your plan when the time comes
Rules are always evolving on social media platforms. Major changes like the Facebook news feed, FTC blogging guidelines, or Twitter follow limitations changed the game significantly for brands that were utilizing those platforms. These changes serve to demonstrate that with every new rule a company’s focus must remain on the here and the now first and foremost because otherwise your social media strategy can easily become outdated, ineffective, and potentially harmful to your business goals.
But it’s easy when one or two major changes happen on a well-established social media network, what about when a former favorite starts to die of old age and new networks are emerging? MySpace is the best example of this. Once a thriving must-have social networking site, it has since been overshadowed by social media platforms with a broader reach (like Facebook). As Salt and Sour reminded, “Get used to the systems, not the names.” The social media platforms that we rely on today will not be around forever, but if your company is familiar with the direction that social media is headed it will be okay in the long run because changes will not appear as drastic and new platforms will not seem so scary.
Be cautioned, however, that your business should not just jump on every new fad for the sake of staying current. Make sure that as new social media technologies arise your business is evaluating where it makes the most sense to be present. You don’t need to have your business everywhere, just in the places where you will get the most out of social media involvement.
What’s the best way to get a handle on what is happening today and where social media going? Face-to-face networking! Salt and Sour recommend getting out there are making some real connections- not just “followers” and “friends.”
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-Kate Pierce eCommerce Specialist