Most responsible businesses need a full-fledged social media strategy. To effectively leverage social media, shelve any assumptions or conventional wisdom you’ve heeded about online networks, websites and social media tools. Tap into your inner renegade. The connections that social media provide are much more meaningful than the spot- impressions you purchase on traditional media.
Eight basic rules for using social media for marketing are:
1. “Be the Media” – In today’s digital age, media “moguls” don’t ultimately control online content; the vast online citizenry has become the media and the mogul. To thrive in the online universe, remove the “me” from media and remember that “social” counts far more than “media” in the phrase “social media.”
2. “Show Some Skin” – Social media is about connecting authentically with other people over the Internet. That seems like a simple concept, but some people don’t get it. Attaching a face and a personality to your organization humanizes it. The top branding and positioning question for organizations on social media “is not, ‘What is your brand?’ but rather, ‘Who is your brand’?” Companies that reveal the executives behind their products or services develop strong, trusting bonds with their online followers.
3. “Unmask Your Motives” – The crucial follow-up, to “Who is your brand?” is, “Why?” Online or offline, people want to know who speaks for and exemplifies a brand or company, what products or services it provides, and why it is in the marketplace. Motives matter to the members of your online audience. Go beyond simply promoting your product’s quality or asking for a sale. Explain the higher motivations behind your work: what you do and, more significantly, why you do it. People care about the intent of companies as much as, or more than, the particular products or services they offer. To build loyalty through social media, show your motives.
4. “Get Comfortable Being Uncomfortable” – If you want a high profile, get comfy with the social media world and be real.
5. “Ask Forgiveness Rather Than Permission” – Be open, sincere, authentic and appealingly vulnerable. Don’t fear making mistakes; do what seems right to you. Stay engaged with your friends and followers online. If you do, most will respect you and forgive your mistakes. You can make a boneheaded error – particularly as a novice – but if you remain candid with your audience, most people will look beyond your mistakes, and continue to like and trust you.
6. “Consensus is the True Authority” – Filmmaker Edward Burns uses Twitter to develop consensus among his followers about what music he should feature in his films or how he should name his characters. Sometimes, Burns even asks his Twitter followers to help him develop plots for his films. He doesn’t simply ask his followers to weigh in on these issues; he applies their suggestions to his work.
7. “There’s a New ROI in Town” – To ensure that their online activities provide sufficient return on investment (ROI), companies use various “cold metrics.” They measure “reach, frequency, page views, impressions, eyeballs captured and so on.” Some of these metrics are flawed. As Albert Einstein once said – though not about social media – “Not everything that counts can be counted. Not everything that can be counted, counts.
Cold metrics provide some value, but they don’t tell the whole story. “Warm metrics” also count, including “engagement levels, viral factors and sentiment analysis.” Such metrics assess the real, commercial value expressed in followers’ activities, such as “click-throughs, sign-ups, media consumption or product purchases.” Combine your cold metrics – your “total number of fans and followers or the number of impressions” – with your warm metrics – “engagement, affinity and sentiment” – to get the new, meaningful ROI: “return on influence.”
8. “The Act of Good Can Be Scaled” – Social media give people and organizations special opportunities to connect to humanitarian concerns. You can communicate, potentially, with millions of people online and ask them to support philanthropic activities that matter to you.
The renegade mind-set is the place where “passion, skill and purpose” intersect. This satisfying level of existence can be challenging, because intersections often involve friction and adversity. As a renegade, you will bump up against non-renegades who feel uncomfortable about the disruptions – or the bold new thinking – that your ideas represent. Change upends routines, so some discomfort accompanies any innovation. For renegades who expect and demand a fully satisfying life, “work is no longer work.” Think carefully about “your why,” that is, the intent of your life and work. With the right intent, you can develop bold ideas that influence and inspire others. Use social media to make your ideas scalable. The most practical test of real innovation is whether your online friends and followers embrace your ideas and adopt them. People will engage with you only when you “deliver value when, where and how [they] want to receive it.”