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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Social Media Marketing's Rules Of Engagement

Rules Of Engagement originally uploaded by Lightblb.
Rules Of EngagementThe subject has come up multiple times in the past few weeks, and each time I realize that there's still quite a lot to teach about the rules of engagement for social media marketing. You see, they differ from those we are used to in traditional marketing.

Take the notion of how to address others in conversation.

Traditional marketing tends to shout, interrupt and force distinct notions on others. It doesn't listen very well - if at all - and certainly doesn't welcome other perspectives. Remember The Break Up? Not very social.

Traditional marketing is comfortable hiding behind a corporate wall, speaking in the third person and anonymously.

Social media marketing isn't; it prefers to speak in the first person, identifying who's talking and possibly even divulging a few human foibles that indicate accessibility and human-ness. It wants a dialogue, interaction and genuine interaction.

It's all part 'n parcel of being authentic, not pretending to be someone you're not, being transparent and open about associations, affiliations and possible conflicts of interest, and generally wanting to engage in conversation around a product, brand, service, subject matter that you feel really strongly about.

What I like about these rules of engagement is that they truly engage - both the content creator and the content consumer. They provide that element of realness and human-ness that enables someone who knows nothing about you to express curiosity and interest and then possibly start a relationship. How powerful! How engaging, and how grounding, too. You know what to expect and can react accordingly.

Rules of engagement take two forms: how you present yourself and commit yourself to behaving in your public forum [e.g., a blog] - how you plan to react to comments, the rules you expect others to abide by, words of caution about privacy and that your views are indeed your own personal views about things...

Rules of engagement also affect your own internal organization. They set the stage for employees to interact in this newly public and social environment so they generate positive momentum for the brand, product, service rather than real or perceived trouble.

The best guidelines I have come across are those created by SHIFT Communications in PR Squared's post titled Corporate Social Media Policy: Top 10 Guidelines in a document listing the Top 10 Guidelines for Social Media Participation at a Company. Read it, internalize it and then consider how to apply it to your company.

Other points of reference, based on Understanding Social Media Guidelines for Employees, are IBM and Intel.

What do you think of social media marketing's rules of engagement? Do they make sense? Do you see how they can benefit your business? What would you change?

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