Social media is finally catching on in the mainstream media, and in the mainstream public. The reaction from my fellow social media consultants and “early adopters” has been varied and interesting. I talked a bit about the first reactions and gave a few pointers for finding a good consultant in this space after the first wave of popularity already. One of the most interesting things going on now that we’re getting into the next phase is this desire to confine social media with rules.
Have you ever been to meetings of social media groups and wanted to leave because they felt like a Home Owners Association for Social Media? Or read an idea on a blog and thought to yourself “Why is this person or company trying to lay claim to this idea people are already doing on a local level and stifle its growth with rules?” It seems to me that people or companies strive for rules and regulations for two reasons: a desire to validate their presence in a space, and fear.
Every good social media campaign needs a backbone. It needs a concerted, well-conceived goal set. The right tools (this includes the people actively acting on the campaign). You need solid strategy in place to get you to wear you want to be. At the same time, you need flexibility. If everyone is given a proscribed set of rules on the national level, all we’ll get is an impersonal, HMO style social media experience. This will only serve to drive people away from the platforms you have invested in. If you are going to spend the time, energy and effort (and trust me, a great social media campaign does take effort, time and energy) in this space, why would you shoot yourself in the foot by creating a situation where you can not innovate?
Don’t fall prey to false metrics. Eschew extensive rules. Avoid boilerplate social media campaigns. Leave yourself the ability to respond, to think actively and proactively about the results you are getting. Leave yourself and your company the room to do what needs to be done, and where, in real time. Practice a few common sense guidelines (Listen, Engage, Listen, Be Human, Don’t Tell The Internet If You Wouldn’t Tell Your Grandma, Listen, Share, Help, Be Trustworthy, Listen) and you’ll be fine.