How should I be using Social Media? Listen!

*How many websites do you look at more than 3 times a day? That’s more than the number of daily meals suggested by the FDA. Even the most ardent weather-bugs probably wouldn’t pass this mark for a single source on the average weather day.

Some of you are probably thinking, “what about Facebook and Twitter?” You, yourself may just be looking to see if any more people commented on the cute dog photo from last weekend. You’re not one of those obsessed people they talk about, neither is the average follower of your company’s page. As a pervasive cultural phenomenon like rock & roll or driving cars to work, social media impacts us all – even if we’re not individually über-consumers. Chicago’s 2012 Social Media Week took place last week, and as professionals in social and all things web, every full-time member of our team attended the conference. We gave panelists our discerning thumbs up / thumbs down, and here are our key take-aways for you, our clients and fans.

It’s OK to be personal (and to be an actual person). A first person voice can be great for engaging in dialogue, but it’s hard to balance with the tone of a “brand voice”. When writing looking at a logo instead of a head shot, a common question is, “should I speak as myself or as the company?” Brands and audiences struggle with this personality divide not only in the social media space but wherever they engage their audience.

It's OK to be an actual person with social media!Investigating, getting right down to some challenges, and succeeding…

Allowing contributors to post on social media platforms as themselves (or at least as personas under a pseudonym everyone is comfortable with), brand ambassadors can take their place as sales representatives, overcoming objections and praising fans. In the best cases, it also keeps the brand itself objective and supervisory rather than directly culpable for discrete transgressions of tone or interpretation. Getting personal isn’t costly, it just takes a change in daily process that shouldn’t add time to anyone’s day. If conversation where can i buy alprazolam cod isn’t thriving with your customers, it’s time to give some face-time.

Listen, Respond, Interact, Strategize. There’s a certain way things are planned in business – the advertising business included – it’s begins with goals and objectives. These are succeeded by strategy, implementation, and evaluation. The cycle feeds back on itself and drives growth. The enlightened approach to social brand strategy above takes a converse approach. Although the levels in this approach each sound like givens, there’s more to this than taking the same steps in a different sequence. The chain connecting them is the action of building trust and rapport. Anyone seasoned in sales will tell you it’s one and the same as their process. The nuance of the last two steps is not to be lost though. Interacting means more than continuous responding – it means collaborating through shared cognitive associations to construct personalized and therefore memorable brand stories – new associations between a brand or a business and its audience. The strategizing we conclude with is not some other, diminutive “strategy” than the one in business or advertising. The result is your real social media strategy. It’s based on what’s most exciting and most challenging about your actual business and how well you utilize social as a promotional tool. Ultimately (like any media strategy) it’s aimed at propelling your growth.

In conclusion, social media may only be a small part of your marketing mix, so why is it important to evaluate your approach to social now? As a tool for listening, social media gives us more frequent feedback. Instead of saving it up for a semi-annual meeting, micro-adjust and use positive feedback to inform other areas of communication where feedback cycles are delayed or disconnected. For year-round insights on your approach to social, keep an eye on and #SMW12 on Twitter.

Take the next step and activate the power of web, social, and video, give us a call at 773.938.1230 or e-mail (and of course you can tweet us @Sparkfactor)!

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