Tips & Tricks from Boston's Social Media Heavyweights

Posted by Katie Del Angel on Fri, Mar 5, 2010

 Social Media bandwagonLast night's event at UK Trade & Investment drew a crowd of diverse sorts with dozens of questions on social media integration and practicality - and industry pros and authors Lois Kelly, Erik Qualman, Larry Weber, and Dan Zarrella, with moderator Robert Davis, were ready to dish their best practices.
Attendees were able to send their questions in advance for the panel to address at the event, which allowed the audience to interact & ask their follow-up questions throughout. Here are some of the great questions and the candid comments the panel had in response:

Clients seem to consistently have a fear in becoming involved in social media because of the doors it opens for negative feedback - How can you get them over that fear?

 Erik: Negative is a good thing - Not being talked about is even more negative than negative feedback because it's not being talked about. It's a positive in two ways:
       1. It relies on the marketing team to listen, which leads them back into product development & gets them in the whole process
       2. You can correct problems in an open forum

Lois: Show them the data.
FedEx is a key example of a company that used negative feedback to address problems and turn around the experience customers had - Customers were noted to be 5 times more loyal after a negative experience was addressed and consequently fixed. As Lois says, give your client 10 examples like this, and they can't disagree.

With all the negative feedback and "trolls" out there, what are the rules of engagement? When do you intervene and how do you moderate the feedback?

Lois: Lois advised the audience to read Patrick O'Keefe's books for digging deep into this issue and providing great best-practice ideas for moderation.

Who should have ownership of a company's social media activity? The marketing team? An individual? How can you be everywhere?

Lois: Lois cited that larger companies have been seen with whole social media teams (like Cisco and FedEx) that are part business consultants, part education & training, & part governance - and have been working great to get the brand voice out there.

Consumers often express their needs in the social media realm - Is it fair or smart for sales people to jump on those opportunities and respond?

The panel generally agreed that if people trust your brand and you reply in earnest (No used-car dealer pitch!), it will definitely add value for them and people appreciate that.

Where should you start involvement in social media? How much should you rely on free sites (Facebook, Twitter) vs. exclusive communities? What about niche sites?

Larry: Larry mentioned that while there are dozens of microsegmented social sites, they aren't even quite worth it yet because we don't have analytics for them all yet.

Lois: Lois emphasized that you need to determine metrics for success first to decide what kind of platform to use. For instance, communities like Twitter are great for lots of participation and engagement, while "gated communities" garner higher quality and expertise.
She stated that defining your goals for participating in social media (Get people to buy?Offer customer service?Address snarky comments?) helps clarify which platform offers the right community.

Erik: Check into larger networks before making your own niche community so you aren't just recreating. It's likely there is already a community on Facebook somewhere, and creating your own may not be necessary.

How can you create content that goes viral?

Dan: You can't create something to be viral. "It's not black magic" - It isn't as simple as making a "good" video; it depends on the medium, the audience, and a plethora of small factors you can't create for. (He also covered this on his blog, where he explains 5 elements to push your content in the right direction to become viral.)

Lois: People want personal stories rather than data - awe-inspiring, intriguing, stories.

Where does brand voice stop and individual conversation start?

The panel seemed to view the relationship between brand & individuals of the company as interrelated and interdependent - and is no different from any other personal dialogue. As Dan put it, "You can't friend a logo"; behind every brand account there are people. Whether you all have different accounts or not,they're still integrated. 

Larry: For branding, stronger dialogue = stronger brand. Put content out there to spark dialogue. 

Lastly, the panel was asked what they believed were characteristics of successful companies in social media.

Dan: Social media/social behavior must be in the DNA of the company.

Larry: Good companies are still successful for the same reasons as they always have been - transparency & honesty.

Lois: The company must be passionate about the customer & want to answer questions.

Erik: Listen, interact, listen, sell - not Listen then sell! 
Find out more about our panelists:
Moderator: Robert Davis - VP, Digital Marketing, PJA Advertising + Marketing / @heyrobertdavis

Lois Kelly - Partner, Beeline Labs / Author of "Beyond Buzz: The Next Generation of Word of Mouth Marketing" / @loiskelly
Erik Qualman - Global Vice President of Online Marketing, EF Education & Author of "Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business" / @equalman
Larry Weber
- Chairman, W2 Group / Author of "Sticks and Stones - How Digital Business Reputations Are Created Over Time and Lost in a Click / @thelarryweber
Dan Zarella - Social Media Scientist, Hubspot / Author: "The Social Media Marketing Book" / @danzarrella

Also, a special thanks to our sponsors of the evening, media6degrees & Overdrive Interactive!