January 20, 2009

CMN’s Six Rules for Social Media

What do the Obama campaign and Motrin have in common? They both utilize social media. The difference, however, is the Obama campaign has leveraged the power of social media for mobilizing its audience, and Motrin misfired by upsetting its audience. Both offer important lessons for us as we navigate the “Wild West” stage of social media.

The 2008 campaign and Motrin’s baby carrier ad were some of the examples we discussed at our recent presentation to the AIGA Boston on Social Media & Your Business. At CMN, we use social media to project who we are, how we think, and what we’re up to. We use it to tell our clients, prospective and existing, how we define thoughtful — because that’s what we strive to deliver — thoughtful branding and design.

There was some healthy debate among the participants as to whether or not social mediums like Twitter and Facebook are professional tools. One woman said Twitter allows her to learn a lot of new information in a very short period of time. But someone else questioned how much time it takes to use these tools. “Is it really productive?” he asked. Our response, “It depends on how you define productive.”

At CMN, we view social media as a way to build shared meaning among a community. And creating a shared meaning is about creating a distinct, compelling, meaningful brand. But it all starts with your brand. The brand strategy should address who you are and who you want to be. It should be relevant, unique and defensible. Your social media strategy should show your brand. The goal is complete transparency across every customer touch point: Internet, packaging, face-to-face, etc.

Our Top 6 Rules for Social Media:

  1. Be authentic.
  2. Strengthen your current audience and engage new ones.
  3. Connect. Give your audience a reason to engage with you.
  4. Be remarkable. Give people things on which to remark.
  5. Participate in other discussions, not just your own.
  6. Embrace organic planning. Have a plan, but be ready to adjust.

Remember, a social media strategy is only as good as the brand strategy from which it evolves.

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