Friday, July 11, 2008

Doing Online, well, Wrong

Doing online (traditional, social, 2.0/3.0, ) right has a variety of meanings, and can vary from market to market, product to product, even person to person. There isn't really a "right" answer, there is just doing Online Well, and even that is a qualitative analysis at best. But, there are some things about online marketing and promotion that can be described as just wrong. Let's leave aside the obvious ones like all out spamming, and purposely or inadvertently becoming linked on or to porn (unless of course, that is your business).
As social media and new media technology becomes increasingly popular in the B2B space, and trickling down to the SME B2B space, there are companies that want on this bandwagon, but don't experts on their team, there are some pretty big mistakes that can be made.
2.0 and social media marketing is by it's nature open to much more public critism than traditional methods, therefore attention to your message, media, and tone are more important than ever. Here is my take on some of the just plain Wrong ways of going about things.

1. Having no content other than your (often outdated) brochure. Would you like to have a Facebook page for you company? Have people become fans? Cool. FB is beoming a standard in companies online strategies, and can work well. You need to be sure that the content you are putting up is new, informative, and fresh; give your readers (and hopefully FB Fans) something to be excited about.

2. Disregarding your core Brand and/or Message. Just because you are playing in new media, doesn't mean you should completely abandon the ideas, messages, and packaging that have made up your business thusfar. By playing a theme that is out of tempo to the rest of your overature, you will simply alienate the very message that you wanted to keep tied to your company.

3. Being a one-trick pony. New media is in a large part about capturing a viral wave in the internet ocean. Like any good surfer will tell you, if you only paddle out to one spot every day, your chances of catching a wave aren't very good. You need to repurpose your message for a variety of mediums. Do you have a great White Paper? Cool, now grab the best bits of that and write a great blog. Can you make a video related to some of that content? Do it. Is there a new idea or technology that people can become Fans of on Facebook? Make page or even a group. Are there related topics or macrotrends that your original whitepaper can offer insite to? Look them up, and participate in their forums. Social media is not a one shot deal, or a quick fix.

4. Faking it. Do not, I repeat, do not pretend to be someone or something that you are not in social media. Do not make a facebook account pretending to be a person, when indeed you are a business. Do not pretend to be an anonymous or impartial forum poster and respond to blogs or postings about your business or related topics. You will get caught. The results are never good.

5. Spamming. This goes beyond traditional spamming (buying/finding/stealing email lists and sending out mass mails - don't do this. No, don't.) and includes putting your ad/website randomly as a comment to a blog post, forum posting, facebook group, etc. If you have valuable insights on a topic, add them. Include a link if it will help the community in the particular topic being discussed. But if you are putting a link just to put the link, and not adding any immediately available and directly related comments or content, just don't. Worse, do not post your company's website where it is totally unrelated. Commenting on a great article on nuclear energy? Great, just don't include a link to your dog grooming business. That's just irritating.

It's a brave new-ish world, but not one to be feared. A great deal of WOM is driven by altruism and the notion of providing goodwill to the community, and even the company. That being said, my last bit of advice: Don't be a dick. What goes around, comes around is faster, and more true than ever.

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