Smart tips for building a trusted brand of truth on social media

Jumping into social media streams can be like inhaling a cloud of gnats up your nose. How do you screen social media content for value? And how do you create it?

I recently attended Seattle’s Interactive Conference #SIC2011 where the top social media gurus and brand managers gathered to highlight what’s working and what’s headed our way. I walked away feeling validated by one repeated theme – social media is not a marketing strategy, but a tool.

It’s clear that people tune social media out when they are besieged with useless content. People follow trusted brands of truth that cut through the noise.

The frenetic output of social media can never match our personal ability to consume it. So at the end of the day trusted brands of truth prevail.

I screen social media like a mother eavesdrops on a teen-girl slumber party. Amid the hailstorm of useless chatter, I’m listening for what I want to know and what I need to know: “I hate her, I love Muse, I’m failing biology and Matt is a brat.” The same rule applies to the marketplace. Who loves who? Who loves me? Who hates who? Who hates me? And why?

Consumers and brands operate with motives. Know your motive and know the motives of your target audience. Tools for communication may change, but rules for strategic communication remain. Here are tips from #SIC2011 that stuck with me:

  1. Social media is not a brand/marketing strategy. It’s a tactic.
  2. Embrace ALL third-party testimonials – the good and bad. Don’t  abhor, ignore or delete them.
  3. Adopt transparency to create credibility. People scan for trusted sources.
  4. Speak concisely and with relevance. Edit like an umpire.
  5. Know why you’re in it. Answer this question: What’s my home run?
  6. Respect social media tools. Hiring cheap labor to manage your social media communities is like asking frat boys to plan a wedding. (Inspired by Louis LoPresti @RedPantsMeme)
  7. Metrics for social media must be tied to a marketing strategy and goals – brand lift, allegiance, buy-in, transactions, market share, customer service and referrals – not just increased traffic.
  8. There are no substitutes for good products and content. Have something worthy to sell and say.
  9. Consumers and clients are your best brand ambassadors. Celebrate them.
  10. Shut up and listen. What are your social media streams telling you?