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Social Media Marketing Best Practices
By Jeffrey Hayzlett
Chief Marketing Officer at Kodak
Why do I take the time to use social media like Twitter and Facebook? Because in today's media landscape, it's vitally important to be where our customers are. Kodak has always embraced this marketing philosophy, and today that means being active in social media.
The exciting thing about social media is it offers the opportunity to engage in two-way conversations with customers. What better way to know how to best serve your customers than to hear directly from them? Social media has enabled new ways to initiate conversations, respond to feedback, and maintain an active dialogue.
Kodak has pages on Facebook as well as three of our own blogs. The blogs start conversations and have a direct, positive impact on Kodak’s search engine rankings. Kodak also receives more than 11,000 mentions in other authors' blogs every month in the form of product reviews, opinions on products, rants, fan mail, and more. We directly participate in many of these conversations to ensure our customers know we're listening and to share answers and additional insights.
Podcasts produced at Kodak are available for free download at iTunes.com, as well as Kodak.com and YouTube.com. We even have our own YouTube site where we post videos about our products, commercials, and events.
Twitter has recently become an important part of Kodak's social media activity. We have seen very tangible returns from using Twitter, including media coverage, sales leads, increased consideration, and direct product purchases.
If you are thinking of getting started in social media, first give some thought to these basic questions:
- Why do I want to participate in social media?
- How can social media improve my business?
- How will social media be incorporated into my overall customer experience?
Once you have solid business answers to these questions, and you decide to engage, I suggest you follow these basic steps to best practices:
- Set up profiles on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter social networks. Use your own name instead of an obscure nickname that can be construed as spam. Keep it short, and add a profile photo when you set up your accounts. Nothing says "newbie" more than having a blank face inserted by Twitter or Facebook.
- Start listening with applications like TweetDeck or Seesmic. You can watch conversations on topics you care about, including your company name, competitors, etc. If you see people's "tweets" you find of interest, click on their profiles and see what other tweets they are making. If you find them engaging, "follow" them. This will be the start of building your network.
- Be real. People who come on too strong with marketing messages or misrepresent themselves are not well liked. Think of the conversations you have in your daily life. What's interesting? Boring? Overbearing? Genuine? Above all, be social.
- Add value. People will want to know about your products and services, but put them into context. Share your observations on the industry, trends you are noticing, and links to things you like and dislike.
Given the reach of the Internet, it's important that when you use these various media, you follow some basic procedures to protect yourself and your company. At Kodak, we developed a social media policy for our employees to follow. We also developed a social media guide for our partners and customers. It includes our social media policy that can be adapted for your own company, tips from Jenny Cisney (our chief blogger), and places to find us online.
I strongly believe that participation in social media can strengthen your brand and your connection with customers and key influencers. Networking platforms like Facebook and Twitter, news-sharing and bookmarking sites like Delicious and Digg, and photo- and video-sharing sites like Flickr and YouTube can be exciting new avenues for communication in your professional and personal lives. Used responsibly, they provide an effective way to keep abreast of new trends and topics and to share information and perspectives.
It's well worth the time invested.