1. Be Agenda Free.
Best Buy is a brand that most of us have come to recognize as a leading retailer in the consumer electronics space. Due to internal and external social media endeavors, they've also managed to become a success story and model for how to use social media for customer service and business opportunities.
One such program, Best Buy Remix, is designed to encourage third-party developers to build applications using Best Buy's data. They've decided to leverage social media to engage with their developer community and Keith Burtis, Community Outreach Manager, heads up those efforts. His secret tip - get rid of your agenda.
He says, "Never approach an individual or network of individuals with a greedy one sided agenda. Look past converting your network to customers but instead look to impress, educate, and entertain them. At Best Buy Remix our goal is to inform and educate developers about our platform. We do this by offering them data, advice and personal support that they wouldn't otherwise get anywhere else."
In fact, he practices this advice every day by highlighting members from their developer community on their blog. He notes that, "One of our favorite things to do on the Remix blog is to have a weekly or Bi-weekly section called 'Featured Developer' Any time someone goes out of their way to build an application or add on to the API with their time we like to get in depth and personal with them."
2. Make it Personal.
FIRST, For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology, is likely a non-profit you've never heard about. The organization was founded by Dean Kamen and their mission is to use robotics programs to get kids excited about technology.
Non-profits are notoriously tight-lipped when it comes to social media, but FIRST has recently started using Twitter and social media to build relationships with program participants and make sure that you start to hear more about their incredible mission.
Courtney Hoppe, Program Manager for FIRST LEGO League, has a valuable perspective on Twitter as a medium for non-profits. She really drives home how personal the process should be when she advises, "I think it's important for companies that use social media to realize that their customers want to connect to them personally. So that's why we've taken a "behind-the-scenes" approach with the FLL twitter account. I tweet about everything from program development to when one of my co-workers brings in cookies."
She goes on to describe the very real benefits of being so open and so personal. "It's helping deepen loyalty from the people we already have and attract the attention of people we don't. Since we're a non-profit, we don't have money to spend on advertising. So it's hard to attract the attention of the non-converted. Social media helps us do that."
3. Go Outside Your Comfort Zone.
When you think of Hewlett-Packard (HP), you probably think of computers, laptops, netbooks, and even printers. Now, however, the big brand is getting social and opening up about the lessons they've learned and their tips for success as a big brand.
Angela LoSasso heads up HP's social media efforts. She says that if you want to be successful, it's vital to "Be ready, be prepared, prepare others, and be committed to working outside “the comfort zone” – whether we’re talking about your comfort zone or that of your marketing team, your PR team, or your management team."
LoSasso gets into the specifics and practicality of brands getting social. According to her, "Marketers and advertisers love metrics. Understand that some experts grow uncomfortable when you take money away from activities that can be accurately measured to put toward social activities with touchy-feely metrics such as “mentions”, “sentiment”, and “tweets”. Just because little in social media can yet be measured to the accuracy and depth of what we can comfortably measure in traditional media – whether online, in print, or on-air – it doesn’t mean that social media doesn’t count for much. It does. Ask the millions of people on Facebook and Twitter how they first heard about the latest iPhone App or the laptop they just purchased and the studies will show they heard about it from a ‘friend’."
LoSasso swears by the open channel that social media provides. "There is gold to be harvested from rich, open conversation and the feedback, insight and constructive criticism it provides. But sometimes the feedback is very public, very loud, and not so brand-friendly. Don’t ignore it. Address it and keep moving forward."
4. Manage More With Less.
Erit Yellen is a converted PR professional who has turned her focus to social media. She's now working with high profile professional athletes on their social media strategy. Her perspective is incredibly unique as her clients have to deal with the potential of social media saturation. They're so high profile that as soon as they jump into the social media space, they can easily get overwhelmed by the work it takes to keep up with replies, wall posts, and status updates.
Her inside tip is to do more with less. She says, "I am a big fan of clients using TweetDeck to correspond directly to their fans, answer questions. It helps keep track of so many different platforms all in one place."
The Twitter desktop application keeps her clients from getting overwhelmed, and allows them to search Twitter, view and respond to replies, record and follow 12seconds.tv videos, update their Facebook status, and so on.
Yellen also believes that you shouldn't forget about the potential that Facebook offers, saying, "I also think that although Twitter can be easier to use and is popular right now, Facebook is incredibly important to maintain...stay engaged on posting videos, links, and pictures from your personal life."
5. Commit to the Long Haul.
Starbucks is one of the most successful brands at using social media to not only be the online voice of the company, but to respond to customer concerns in real-time, point people to Starbucks resources, implement customer ideas, and even find creative ways to bring in more business. Part of their success is their long-term commitment to their social media endeavors.
Brad Nelson manages the Starbucks Twitter account, as well as a number of other web initiatives, and his advice is to "Look at social media as a long term project."
Nelson continues with, "there is no silver bullet. Once you start engaging with your customers, be sure that you're listening, and humble when you engage. When you tweet, ask yourself, is this adding value to the conversation. If it isn't, find a way to, because that's the only right way to gain followers."
With a year of Twittering under their belt, Starbucks has proven their commitment to their social media efforts. So where's the proof? According to Nelson, "How about a year’s worth of 2,600 tweets and 270,000 followers? Slow and steady wins this race."