Best Practices In Social Media Marketing – Add ValueSeptember 2nd, 2008
Mitch Joel has called in the cavalry to help answer the question "Are there best practices in social media "? If you don’t know who Mitch Joel is, he is the president of Twist Image (a Canadian marketing company), a Speaker, an author and the host for Six Pixels of Separation podcast . Yea, Mitch does it all.
My advice for social media marketers is to ensure that you are Adding Value . Social media is different to marketing in traditional channels mainly because it is conversation and community based. Traditional media is geared to interrupt, inform and basically talk AT the consumer. In the social media world, you are talking WITH your market, and they talk back.
When engaged in social media, the marketer is not in control. Even if the marketer wants to be, or tries to be, he/she is not. Like any other community, social media is made of up people who share a common interest. These are people who care so much about a topic that they will spend their free time online talking about it, sharing it, tagging it, creating it and living it. This is a passionate and committed group. They are not there to listen to sales pitches or be talked down too. A common mistake marketers make is to identify a community and immediately jump in trying to push their key messages expecting the community to line up and place orders. THEY ARE NOT SITTING AROUND WAITING FOR YOU. The key here is to try and become a member of the community, not a king that tries to rule over it.
The point of this article is to talk about marketing using social media, not just social media in general. The purpose of marketing is get a person or group to take a specific action or behavior. Most often this is selling a product or service. There is nothing wrong with that. Real world communities have merchants. Having a goal of selling to a community is not a bad thing. How it is done is the difference between success and failure.
The right approach is to add value. We have all heard the adage "Don’t ask your doctor for legal advice. Ask a lawyer". No one is an expert in everything, and most often the professionals in a field are leaned upon for innovation, knowledge and insight. Professionals, brands and companies are expected to be leaders in their particular field. This works remarkably well considering that most social media marketing has the goal of becoming a thought leader, and therefor the go to guy (company / brand) when its time for the community members to buy. The goals of the brand and the goals of the community can both be met.
Look at what Mitch is doing with this project, its a great example of adding value and making a win for both his personal brand( and by extension his company Twist Image) and the community in which he thrives. Mitch makes his living by speaking, presenting and having brands hire Twist Image to help them market themselves. In order for the market to want hire Twist Image or Mitch is bcause he is a thought leader. He is a respected professional in his community. To prove his thought leadership, people rely on him to know how to engage the market place successfully, and in this case, social media marketing.
Mitch could have written a blog post that says "I really really know this social media stuff". He could have sent out a message to his facebook group saying "I am awesome and you should all hire me". But he didn’t, because it wouldn’t work. We would all ignore him. Mitch did something much better. He added value.
Right now, some of the most respected members of the social media space (and me) are blogging about the best practices of social media. They are all getting the opportunity to show their thought leadership along with Mitch. This shows that Mitch believes he is on equal footing with his community. This also benefits Mitch because each of these blog posts are sending links to Twist Image’s blog. When the market goes to look for help in social media marketing, they have a really good chance at running into Mitch’s blog. All of these links will also help get Twist Image more google juice (higher search engine rankings). The participants also benefit in two ways. Their posts are now linked through tags , so their post has a better chance of being seen by the market place demonstrating their thought leadership and we all benefit from Mitch pulling together this information into one place we can all share. Everyone wins. The community got value, Mitch looks smart but humble. If you are considering marketing in the social media space start by asking "How can I (my company / brand) add value to this community", not "How am I going to get all these people to buy". A good way to find out is to listen .