From Facebook profiles to blogs to podcasts to virtual stores in the Second Life virtual world, mainstream companies like Redbull, Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Co., Toyota, Whirlpool, and Target are tapping into the online action.
Companies have learned - and some have learned the hard way - that using social media to promote your brand requires chucking out old marketing rules of thumb and adopting new rules of engagement.
Old generations marketers were taught to try to displease as few people as possible and to be appropriate and acceptable to as wide an audience as possible, in hopes of maximizing revenue opportunities, in other words: high level of polish, avoid dissent, and control your image.
Generation X and Y marketers have learned to share more with others and to worry less about frontage and more about substance.
Frankly say, To me, they seem less concerned about appearances and more interested in being understood. They prefer to be themselves and to find others with shared outlooks and similarity rather than trying to be all things to all people," he says. "With the search and similarity tools inherent in social media, younger marketers or generation "Y" marketers seem to embrace these tools more willingly, compared to older marketers or generation "X" marketers who are more likely to vet image and copy through management, public relations, and legal departments."
Companies that decide to leverage social media in their marketing plans should do four things:
1. Be transparent and honest:
Consumers often assume marketers are self-interested. By being transparent, you curtail doubt.
2. Allow Comments and Feedback:
Ask your visitors to provide feedback on your communication efforts. These tools allow you to easily gather feedback.
3. Be fearless:
Many marketers will cringe when they get their first scathingly negative comment. You will receive both positive and negative commentary. Use it to learn about your market and your brand impression.
4. Engagement Limits and Boundaries:
When should you respond to a negative critique? When should you be silent? When should you ban someone from your corporate blog? Determine how you will behave in the public eye - in other words, when you'll assert control and when you'll let the market be itself.