Can We Learn to Play Nice? The New Rules of the Social Media Road

May 26th, 2011 by | Comments Off on Can We Learn to Play Nice? The New Rules of the Social Media Road

In the wake of the recent Facebook vs. Google scandal, it may be naive to suggest that we’re “trending” toward anything remotely kinder or gentler in the world of business ethics. However, it does make me wonder whether Gordon Gekko-style cutthroat capitalism is the most effective way to do business in our increasingly web-based culture. In the social media sphere, where everybody is equally vulnerable to defamatory attacks—and perhaps equally vulnerable to being exposed as the perpetrator—are other models more effective?

I would argue that there is a new ethos emerging in the web business space driven, in part at least, by the ever-evolving and collectively scripted rules of social media.

Here are just few tips on how to promote your brand using social media (that don’t involve planting scandalous blogs about your competition!).

Be interested

People utilize social media first and foremost as a way to interact with other people, not products. So the brand that shows up on the twitter feed bombarding followers with a string of self-promotion will likely be seen as a narcissistic party guest. If you had, say, a kitchen supply company, you might engage followers/friends with a question like “Anyone have a great recipe for Baked Alaska?” By asking questions, replying to their posts and re-tweeting their links, you demonstrate that you appreciate them beyond their value as potential customers… and they’ll, most likely, return the favor.

Be a part of the conversation

Create a message that gets people involved in the idea of the brand, not just the brand itself. With a kitchen supply company, your message might be “I want to get people excited about cooking.” On a practical level, this could mean posting recipes and re-tweeting information about foodie blogs or cooking shows that you love. This places your brand in the middle of a conversation, rather than in the position of hawking your wares outside of it.

Create Valuable Content

Post blogs and videos that are intrinsically useful to consumers whether or not they are in the market for your product. For your hypothetical kitchen supply company, posting a profile on a “vegetable of the week,” or a series of three-minute “how to” videos goes a long way in engaging your audience. Quick tips like “how to chop basil” are particularly useful for people who are doing searches and will also serve to drive traffic to your site.


Look for opportunities to support other brands. Use your blog to post an interview with a local produce farmer, or to review some of your favorite cookbooks.  Although true reciprocity demands nothing in return…chances are that your farmer or author will be re-tweeting that post to his or her followers, which will in turn bring people to your site.

Do you have a social media success story involving your business? We’d love to hear about it. Write to us here at

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