The Rules of (Social) Engagement

The Rules of (Social) Engagement

Imagine walking into a packed room of 10 roundtables filled to the brim with colleagues, and subject signs like Email Marketing Metrics: What’s Working, Repurposing Content for Profit, Renewal Marketing: Online vs. Print, Building Attendance at Live Events and AdWords: What’s Working?—all with highly respected moderators. And having to pick just two to sit in on!

What’s a good journalist to do?

First of all, find an empty seat. This was the scene at last week’s Marketing Conference in Miami. Luckily I found that seat at Wendy Montes de Oca’s session, Social Media Shockers and Secrets—and was very glad I did. She is the author of the best-selling book, Content Is Cash: Leveraging Great Content and the Web for Increased Traffic, Sales, Leads and Buzz. So her 10 Rules of Social Engagement are to be paid attention to. (I’ve added an 11th to fit the category.) Hear Wendy speak more about social media on a Jan. 26th FREE-for-members Webinar. Or visit her website. (My comments below are in italics.)

1. Be aware. Know each social media community’s law of the land. Each network, forum, blog, chat room and bulletin board has its own set of rules that you are required to abide by as a member. Read the rules and stick to them. If the site has a specific area for promotional or marketing messages, keep your posts of this nature restricted to those areas. On a place like Facebook, you will get tuned out pretty quickly if you try to sell.

2. Be active. Don’t just go in a few times and hit members with your marketing message. Get involved. Participate in discussions. Interact with members. Read and respond to engaging posts with no hidden agenda. And don’t forget to include your contact information.

3. Be relevant. Make sure you’re posting in areas of the site that are relevant to the topic you’re discussing. Many forums have segmented sub-areas by category and interest level. This helps the members easily find the topics they’re interested in and keeps you from muddying the waters in unrelated areas of the site.

4. Be genuine. Let the conversations flow organically. Contribute real, thought-provoking comments that members will find interesting. Don’t over-retweet.

5. Be useful. As a member, your goal is to participate in intelligent, useful discussions. Make sure you’re adding value to the site in some way. Your comments should also be valuable to the reader and not random posts. Nothing gets under members’ skin more than messages that appear to be blatant spam.

6. Be subtle. Don’t overlink. Many marketers embed their entire message with URLs to whatever page they’re trying to drive traffic to. Less is more here. Some sites even have rules about not allowing links in the body copy of a post, but keeping them only in the auto signature field where your username is.

7. Be balanced. Mix up your messages. Don’t just go into a site and start spamming away with your marketing messages. Go in. Hang out for a few weeks. Get to really know the members and the site. See which areas of the site have topics and discussions that vibe with you. Then post away.

8. Be informative. Don’t limit your article uploads or links to your own publication. Be aware of what’s happening in your area of interest. Engage in intelligent discussions about news, events and publications under your subject matter. Share related articles that you think members would find interesting. If people know you’re someone to lead them to quality information, they will follow you.

9. Be personable. Develop relationships with the community on both a “friend” and an expert level for your area of specialty. Let your personality and credentials shine through with the information you share.

10. Be respectful. Don’t spam your fellow members through these sites. Also, if it is a business site like LinkedIn, then stick to business.

11. Be smart. We’ve all hit the send button when we shouldn’t have. Some of our messages go to a lot of people. Take that extra minute to check over.


There will be two days of Roundtables
at SIPA’s 36th Annual Conference—Create. Sell. Deliver—
May 20-23, 2012, at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C.

#C11B17For only this month,you can register for that
Conference for an #C11B17incredible $250 off the regular price
(and $150 off the early-bird price!)

Register your staff for just $699 each.
#C11B17This offer will not be repeated!
Sign up before the clock strikes 2012 and save!

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