Here at AHA (you know, in this Vancouver PR agency of ours!), we’re big fans of Brian Solis. Recently, we came across a post on his site that we’d like to share with you – the 21 Rules of Engagement in Social Media. (He also has a book – Engage – that he has just published that is worth purchasing. There is a link on his blog.)
Engagement is, in my opinion, one of the biggest challenges for an organization that wants to use social media as a part of their communications outreach. It’s relatively simple to set up a Twitter or Facebook page, but not as easy to populate these areas with good content that engages your community.
The first step that Brian outlines is this: Discover all relevant communities of interest and observe the choices, challenges, impressions, and wants of the people within each network.
That seems simple enough, but there are a lot of organizations that – in their haste and excitement to participate – jump past it. Don’t.
Believe me, it is an important step. I have had several interesting discussions with CEOs and other senior executives that challenge me on why they should invest (one said waste) time and money on this step. Understanding the culture and the different style of communication online is crucial. There have been several big organizations in the news recently that faced a PR crisis because they didn’t appreciate that online is a different environment and each online community may have their own protocol and style. One point that I make when walking a senior team through this point is – you wouldn’t take your organization into a new market without first understanding its culture, political landscape and the way life works on a day-to-day basis in the “real” world. It’s no different online. Not only is it valuable to identify all the relevant communities of interest – it is crucial to spend some time understanding the culture and paying attention to how they want you to join the conversation.
The time you invest in listening and learning will pay off in the long run.
We’ll be touching on a few more of Brian’s points over the next few weeks. We’d love to hear what you think.