Monday, March 16, 2009

letting fans take the lead on social media

I like to counsel my clients that they'll need a deft hand and a light touch when using social media as a communications tool--in large part, to avoid alienating their existing fans. In a world where traditional PR and advertising are viewed as spam, companies and brands seeking to have a credible presence need to follow the audience closely, and even let fans take the lead, to figure out what works. Don't get in the way of your own cheering squad--hand them a microphone. Here are some good examples:
  • Coca-Cola has the most popular Facebook fan page after President Obama's--with 3.2 million fans--and it's a site built by fans, reports Ad Age. The article describes the care the company took in engaging the fan page hosts, avoiding a heavy-handed approach in favor of a more collaborative style.
  • NPR Talk of the Nation Science Friday host Ira Flatow discovered a fan group on Facebook called "Science Friday--It's the Best Day of the Week." Flatow understood the balance of give and take with the fan group, answering questions, sharing behind-the-scenes content and encouraging them to pose questions he could ask of his interviewees. Science Friday, in addition to Facebook and Second Life, now takes questions on Twitter. The show, with the slogan "making science user-friendly," now has a stream of information about its fans by making lines of communication with the host as user-friendly as the science.
  • Fedex has taken advantage of audiences' love affair with voting and set up its Citizenship Blog, a corporate social responsibility blog, so that readers can rate each post--shown as stars--and even subscribe to an RSS feed based on which posts are most popular.

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