Social media clearly bridges both the world of marketing and corporate communication. And this requires marketers to step out of their comfort zones and quickly become effective participants in two-way dialog.
CMOs and marketing directors welcome the rising tide of Twitter and Facebook posts by their fans resulting from their investment in social marketing. Watching the number of ‘likes’ and followers grow is a sure sign that you’re effectively connecting with evangelists. That’s a great feeling. But managing the social conversation on your pages may not feel so great, at least initially.
We have never had a client who hasn’t asked, “What do we do about negative posts?” It’s a simple and understandable fear. Our training and coaching here is quite straightforward, with one overarching theme: If you have properly nurtured a positive culture on your social networks, you’ll be able to ignore most negative posts.
Why is that? Because your fans will come to your rescue. For marketers (and even more so for nervous C-level execs) this is a leap of faith. However, it never fails to impress them when it happens. One example of this is with our City of Oakland, California client.
Oakland has one of the most passionate ‘brand’ communities we’ve encountered. Which is why nearly every time someone has ‘gone negative’ in a post on their new Facebook page, a fan has jumped in to reframe the discussion in a positive way – before a page administrator needed to do anything about it. For a major city that has had its share of fiscal and social challenges, that means a great deal.
Nurturing a positive culture on your social networks requires more than cheerful posting. It’s process that must be guided by solid research and a clear understanding of the unique attributes and needs of your brand community. Our research identified that, among other core values, ‘being real’ was key to social positioning for the city. This community wants authentic dialog, not a sales pitch for their town. There’s a good lesson here for brands, too.
Credibility in social conversation – along with delivering creative, rewarding experiences that assure fans that you truly value them – leads to trust. That’s when you can count on support from fans when the going gets tough. It’s also where you will reap tangible rewards from your social marketing program, especially if that program is also grounded in smart strategy. Maybe it’s time to get real about that, too.