Much of the discussion at panels I’ve participated in recently at SXSWi, Hub Convene and the AdAge Digital Conference has been about whether brands should engage in real-time marketing on social media. I believe that conversations, whether in person or on social, happen between people. That’s why I offer five lessons for empowering employees to participate in the real-time social conversations:
- “Don’t do dumb things.” This is the First Rule of Social Media. Build and support a culture of social, and then let employees go. At Dell, we offer guidelines for our employees through SMAC University, such as identifying themselves as employees of Dell when they tweet about the company, and to connect with customers in meaningful ways. Dell’s voice is positive and constructive; team members who engage with customers are reminded that, like the company, their purpose is to be authentic to the Dell brand – to help customers “do more.”
- It does not matter how much social data you collect; it is the insights and information that is important. The beauty of social engagement is forming an emotional connection with customers; we don’t want to squash the life out of it. At Dell, we focus on getting people to let go of big chunks of data, not to get paralyzed by the data. Focus on authenticity and the rest will come naturally.
3) “Empower your employees to represent the brand as ambassadors.”
Putting social in a silo does just that, it only enables a select few to have conversations with a few customers. Abandon the notion of a team who represents the company in social and instead integrate it across the organization. By allowing everyone to participate in the real-time conversation, we create a culture of social and make it part of our DNA. Marketing on social is everyone’s job and everyone should have a role.
4) “Don’t talk about what everybody else is talking about if you had nothing to do with it.”
Real-time marketing isn’t the same thing as news-jacking, a term meaning jumping on trending news by inserting your brand into the conversation. Have organic conversations that are meaningful. For example, Dell technology powers the Caterham Formula One team so we have very active social engagement on that topic around race time – it is relevant to our business and tells a story of our technology.
5) “Don’t force it… it has to happen organically.”
Searching for prime real-time marketing moments can be exhausting and counterproductive. Rather than looking for moments of connection, keep in mind that enhancing customer experience doesn’t happen in a straight line or by following a plan. That being said, preparation makes those authentic moments more possible. Train employees, arm them with the tools to execute and support their social engagement throughout the year through regular events that reinforce skills on social media and customer engagement best practices.
The bottom line
Don’t overthink or over-metric your social media strategy. Being too prescriptive kills the innovation. Give people the right direction, culture and guidelines and then get out of their way – leave them room to innovate and you’ll be thrilled with what they come up with.
Tech Page One staff coverage of South By Southwest Interactive and key events that happened during the conference.
- 1SXSW: Health startups hit $2.8 billion in funding
- 2SXSW: US, UK team up on healthcare IT, open data
- 3Michael Dell bucks work/life balance query trend at SXSW
- 4SXSW: 23andMe founder talks personalized genetic data
- 5Check out the tech behind Fader Fort live stream concerts
- 6SXSW: Entrepreneurs debate growth versus scale
- 7FOMO, the plague of SXSW
- 8SXSW: Management tips from US soccer’s head coach
- 9SXSW: Chelsea Clinton highlights tech for social good
- 10Don’t do dumb things in social media