Engaging brands on Twitter and Facebook and other various social media channels have a unique challenge when it comes to truly building community and support behind their brands.  Do brand managers monitoring their social media experience engage every tweet and post that mentions their name, product, service or industry? How appropriate is it to “chime in” on conversation streams with advice and “promotions?” And when is the line crossed from Good Social Media Practice to Something Dangerous?

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Below, we’ve put together four helpful tips to remember when it comes to being a good steward of your social media brand. While not comprehensive, these concepts go far in building a strong social media presence while keeping “appropriate social distance.” 😉

Good Social Media Practice Tip1 – Choose Your Battles

As a brand manager, depending on the size and reach of your brand, you may not have the time or the staff to respond to every tweet, post or comment you stumble across. In these cases, be diligent with your engagement strategies (yes, strategies, plural). If you have the right tracking systems set up, you can be very involved with your brand community.  If you react to every opportunity, it may become counter-productive. Test the waters and monitor the conversations.  Based on a good brand strategy, you’ll know when a customer needs that little social recognition and engagement.  It’s a great feeling to help, but even Mother Teresa couldn’t save everyone.

Good Social Media Practice Tip2 – Remember Your Brand Etiquette

The social media manager should be aware of the brand perception with its community versus other brands. So looking at social media best practices from one brand to another will vary wildly.

For instance, the Target brand manager would advise quite differently than that of the brand manager from Dick’s Last Resort. According to the Target brand promise they are all about customer experience and pleasing the “Guest,” as if they were visitors in your own home.  On the other hand, Dick’s Last Resort has been founded nationally on its reputation of being …  uh…  RUDE to its customers.  So how they react in the social media world will be entirely different.

Good Social Media Practice Tip3 – Timing is a Freaky Thing – Good Timing Is Imperative

Ever pick up the phone to text a friend and POW, there they are texting YOU?  No tone. No nothin’?  NOW, THAT’S FREAKY!

Social media can get that way some times.  If a brand manager is doing her job correctly, she’s going to see mentions of their brand, product, etc. through a number of channels. Now, if she hyper-reacts and jumps on a tweet or a post like putting out a hair fire, then, watch the red flags start flying.  Customers don’t want to have shop employees lurking around the corner to jump out at them as soon as they start to look lost. Give them a little space and react within your brand standards.

On the other hand, I’ve stood at service counters waiting for someone to greet me or even acknowledge my existence for hours! Okay maybe that’s a bit exaggerated, but with the finite attention span of social media, if someone requests answers from a brand and it goes unanswered for even two minutes, it seems like an eternity.

Good Social Media Practice Tip4 – Selling Should Come Secondary

I shouldn’t have to say this, but really! If you’re RESPONDING to someone in the social media world, there’s nothing LESS SOCIAL than answering a plea of distress or confusion with “Hey, have I got a deal for you!” Social media doesn’t need to be sold. If you build your community of brand advocates, they’re already “sold.” It’s your responsibility to build trust in your brand.

So, brand managers, go forth and Tweet. Set your sights on your target market and ENGAGE; but beware of overstepping your boundaries, for after all, you ARE a BRAND.

Keep Cooking
Andrew B. Clark
The Brand Chef