Employees who interact with customers should show authenticity and passion

Authenticity is a key part of social media marketing. Social media strips away a lot of the barriers that companies face due to the nature of media. The people are the new mass media; the gatekeepers are gone. If you are going to participate in conversations online, they are not going to happen on your own ground.

It’s imperative that you have customers and prospects dealing with real people in your organization, not just automation, and that there are real people behind the social media that can talk to them, collaborate with them and get them excited.

Another prerequisite is passion. I’ve seen this across a lot of different industry verticals. You can’t fake passion. The marketers who are going to excel in their fields over the next decade are those that love what they do. They are using their names or social media presences to amplify or support their companies.

The next tip is not hyperventilating, or putting too much information onto social media, because there is so much out there already. I’ve seen some folks freeze with all of the options. It is easier to do many quick and easy tasks, but having someone dedicated to social media who is passionate and who can hash things out with the audience, and who can turn on a dime if something is not working, is very important.

What you’ll realize is that over time, your social media presence will grow, even if you’re not throwing more time or bodies at it. It’s also very different for a consumer packaged goods brand than a restaurant or for a b-to-b company.

Another main point is to remember that any media that connects you with customers online is social. One thing that people tend to forget is that e-mail is a part of that machine. It’s easy to forget that of all the sharing happening online, 50% of the sharing is happening through e-mail.

A lot of times, people get caught up in the hype behind the trend. There’s no question that there is a lot of energy around social media right now, but you need to take a step back and think about it in terms of tactics and channels, and think about it broadly and strategically.

This article originally ran as part of the February 1, 2010 Technique, “Social media can assist your CRM efforts.” To read the entire feature, click here.

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