In this fast-paced, wild west world of Web2.0 and social networking, too many marketers are making dumb moves online. These decisions are being rushed into the community without thinking about what the social ramifications are. You know who they are so I won't call them out again. It does make you wonder though, who is the voice of reason/community in these companies? I think it's vital to have a community advocate(s) inside the agencies and company marketing group to ask some pretty simple, but very crucial questions.
Here are five ways companies and agencies can stop doing stupid things in digital marketing. Some of these may seem very obvious, but ask yourself if you're actually doing them all.
- Engage internal, non-marketing folks in the process. This is a good idea and pretty cost-effective as well. Invite Jim from accounting or Julie from operations and see what they think of new initiatives. Address concerns directly and get their two cents on what you're trying to accomplish. Their personal interactions online will give you a window into how your customers may engage and react.
- Get young professionals involved in all aspects of your marketing planning. This is huge. Undoubtedly, you have young people working in your company. Get these people involved in all stages of your planning. Not only will this give them great experience, but they're much more intimately connected to the pulse of social networks. They can tell you if your thinking is lame and will create backlash or if it has a chance to be embraced. Check out the posts on Valeria's blog by young bloggers for some great insights.
- Remember, "your brand is not my friend". This is Tangerine Toad's battle cry and it is something every marketer needs to keep in mind. Despite how much we think people love us, friendships are person-to-person. Toad's anthem will will keep you at the right distance and in the right mindset.
- Ask your customers. This one seems obvious, but even the most pro-community sites are skipping this one and creating a lot of trouble for themselves. Had Facebook asked a user panel what they thought about Beacon or social ads, they may have been able to avoid some pretty major PR trouble. CK and Doug have already cancelled their accounts on Facebook and I'm sure others have as well. With the switching cost so low, nobody can afford to take advantage of or take for granted the community of current users.
- Learn from the past. You'd think more and more companies would at least look at the mistakes that have taken place. From flogs to Wikipedia editing, companies have pushed the envelope and experienced the backlash. Sadly, other companies either don't look or don't care and line up to do the same things. In this digital age, it's nearly impossible to get away with something like this. The trail is there and there are people who love for nothing more than to expose companies trying to pull a fast one on their customers.
This is a start, but there are definitely other ways to avoid looking like a bozo and run successful marketing programs. What do you do when planning your ideas? What would you add to this list?