Try Not to Be a Tool

The rumors of Google Me, Google’s social network project, are getting more intense and realistic everyday.  It seems that any day now a headline of “Google Me Launch Date Set” will dominate the morning scan of our RSS readers.

All the news thus far points to Google attempting to blatantly mimic the already dominant Facebook, in terms of features and functionality but with tweaks where Facebook has fallen short with its 500 million users.  There is no doubt that understandable, workable privacy settings and the ability to easily integrate with all other Google products will be two enticing features of Google Me.

The thought of another major social network coming into the mix has the C-level asking marketing managers the inevitable question of “What will our Google Me strategy be?”  There lies the problem that is plaguing brands both big and small since social media marketing catapulted from a so-called fad to a communication revolution.

Brands should never just think of social media in terms of the tools they use to connect with users, such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.  The tools will inevitably change, just ask MySpace and Friendster, but the strategy for how to engage users should not.

A social media strategy, whether stand alone or heavily integrated in the marketing mix, should always aim to provide value to users – whether they are called Fans, Followers, Likes or the next buzzword.  Your strategy should never be to “post 2-3 updates a week on Facebook with at least one being a photo album.”

On the social web, quality content is king as the recent Old Spice campaign showed with its highly engaging and entertaining videos.  Valuable content can come in many forms such as: behind the scenes information, coupons or deals, fun facts or even just friendly customer service.

Social networks are just a way to distribute this great content to users that have taken the time to follow your brand on the web.  The tools also allow you to have a 1-to-1 connection and actually establish relationships with customers, something that wasn’t possible before.  The name of these tools shouldn’t matter because your strategy and goals should remain the same across the board.

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