Rules for Social Media Engagement: Start with Privacy

Posted By Kristin Hambelton On November 23, 2011 @ 8:06 AM In Social Media | 3 Comments

Our recent customer conference, Neolane Evolution [1], further reinforced just how much social media has changed our every day lives, especially in terms of how we manage relationships and conduct business. As marketers, social media has undoubtedly changed the game in terms of how brands communicate with customers and prospects. However, as social media becomes increasingly engrained in our day-to-day activities, privacy issues are becoming more and more prominent.

One of the biggest reasons why social giants like Twitter and Facebook have become so popular and valuable among brands is because marketers can now have access to insightful user information that was previously un-accessible via other channels. However, with every “like” on Facebook and “follow” on Twitter, users are opening themselves up to spam, unsavory or even illegal marketing tactics. Consider the controversies stirred up around Facebook’s recent admissions [2] that it has been tracking online visitors after they leave the site.   

It is because of these ongoing public battles that social media companies are required to put specific rules and regulations in place to help protect consumers’ privacy and prevent stealing of sensitive personal information. However, many marketers don’t fully understand or are unaware of these policies, and often find themselves in unchartered legal territory or infringing on their customers’ confidentiality.

During Evolution, I had the pleasure of attending a breakout session providing some of the basic rules, regulations and best practices for interacting with customers and prospects via social media. While Facebook and Twitter have very detailed privacy pages that every marketer should read and understand, following are some basic rules of engagement that build off those established policies. The following points will help guide marketers’ journey through the murky world of social media engagement and privacy.

Rule #1 – Use Forms to More Easily Drive Opt-ins and improve qualification

  • Facebook allows you to leverage online forms to get opt-ins easily and without restrictions. It also allows you to develop better communications with your target audience and expand to new channels;
  • Apps are a great way to request Facebook users’ profile information, but you need to know and understand the restrictions.
  • Mix Facebook data and forms for better qualification, and use the forms to enlarge opt-ins to new communications and new channels

Rule #2 – Facebook is Not a Data “Open Bar”

  • Request only what your app can “action” to provide the most value. In other words, don’t ask for information about things that have no relevance to your brand;
  • Be sure to include a privacy policy on your site, explaining how the data will be used and ALWAYS provide an opt-out process.  

Rule #5 - No Automatic Wall Posts

  • While it’s technically possible to automatically post messages to users walls, respect the fact that Facebook doesn’t allow it without user action.

Rule #6 – Limit Your Promotions

  • Facebook limits you to promoting only your fan-page related products, so you won’t be able to post ads for non-related products.

Rule #7 – Limit Your Direct Messages

  • Twitter has a 250 direct message per day maximum, so direct messages must be used only for highly targeted communications.

Even with these rules, the most important thing we can do as marketers is to really listen to what customers want and deliver what they expect. As part of that, we need to stay on top of the ever-changing social media landscape, and abide by the rules and regulations that have been put in place to help our customers access the information they need and receive the best brand experience possible.  Admittedly, we have only scratched the surface here. What are some of your suggestions to round out our Rules of Engagement list?

URLs in this post:

[1] Evolution:

[2] recent admissions:

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