As we get ready to spend large amounts of times with our friends and families this holiday season, we are reminded of certain social rules that govern our general conduct (kitchen disasters and last minute holiday shopping frenzies excluded). Some of these social codes include: 'tis better to give than to receive, and smile and say thanks - no matter what's inside that tie-shaped box.
In social marketing, as in real life, there are similar codes of conduct that we (should) all follow. However, whereas we've been told over the course of a lifetime how to behave with others face to face, marketers are just now beginning to really understand how to interact with people online. 2009 has been a major year in that regard as thought leadership and research have shed a great deal of light over best practices for connecting with consumers in relevant and meaningful ways.
Here are four important studies that guide proper social (marketing) decorum:
1. Want to build an effective social media presence? Start with email. You wouldn't go up to someone on the street and ask them to be your Facebook friend right away, would you? Start slow and let people get to know you so you don't come across as asking for too much, too soon.
According to a September 2009 Harris Interactive study, 96% of online adults are willing to share email addresses with a brand, while only 12% are willing to share social networking information (such as Facebook user name or Twitter handle).
2. Even if your audience is active on social networks, keep talking to them through email. Despite efforts to say otherwise, email is a more focal part of social users' lives than ever. According to Nielsen, the biggest consumers of email are high social media consumers.
3. Social is no passing phase. People spend a LOT of time on social networks. Another important Nielsen stat: users spend three times more time on Facebook than they do on Google. Invest in getting the right kind of users engaged with your brand. Your social network is only as good as the people who join it. Make sure they're genuinely interested in your brand and give them targeted content to keep them interested. This seems obvious, but it's an art, not a science.
4. Don't think of social as purely online. According to comScore, the number of people using mobile devices to access the Internet has more than doubled from 2008 to 2009 and much of that growth has been fueled by use of social networks and blogs. Mobile should be a core element of your social strategy – build a useful app, offer exclusive deals to people who download that app. Be sure to extend your messaging across multiple channels.
These are the four big lessons that stood out to me the most. I'm sure we've learned a lot more. What's the most important social marketing lesson you learned this year?