With close to 900 million users and an upcoming IPO, Facebook is ruling the web as the social network of choice. Following close behind is Twitter, the 140 character king of microblogging also known as the “SMS of the Internet”. LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, Foursquare, blogs, and tonnes of other social networks make up the other players of the social web.
Collectively, these social technologies and platforms rule a disproportionate part of our lives as consumers. This is why companies need to get into the digital act and be “likeable”.
With the secondary headline “How to Delight Your Customers, Create an Irresistible Brand, and Be Generally Amazing on Facebook (and Other Social Networks”, “Likeable Social Media”
by Dave Kerpen is a highly practical book. Providing truckloads of tips, hints and useful advice, it shares how companies should behave themselves on social networks and what they can do to build communities, strengthen their reputations, and increase sales.
At the core of the book are 18 cardinal rules of the social web, divided into chapters, which cover the following lessons:
1. Listen First and Never Stop Listening
2. Way Beyond “Women 25 to 54”: Define Your Target Audience Better than Ever (it’s scary to know that you can pinpoint down to a target audience of one if you know his/her characteristics!)
3. Think – and Act – Like Your Consumer
4. Invite Your Customers to Be Your First Fans
5. Engage: Create True Dialogue with, and Between, Your Customers
6. Respond Quickly to All Bad Comments
7. Respond to the Good Comments, Too
8. Be Authentic
9. Be Honest and Transparent
10. Should You Ask a Lot of Questions?
11. Provide Value (Yes, for Free!)
12. Share Stories (They’re Your Social Currency!)
13. Inspire Your Customers to Share Stories
14. Integrate Social Media into the Entire Customer Experience
15. Use Social Network Ads for Greater Impact
16. Admit When You Screw Up, Then Leverage Your Mistakes
17. Consistently Deliver Excitement, Surprise, and Delight
18. Don’t Sell! Just Make It Easy and Compelling for Customers to Buy
Some of the points were pretty obvious for heavy users of social networks. Issues like authenticity, honesty, transparency, responding to comments and creating a dialogue with users are paramount in an age where nobody can hide anything anymore.
Others like the use of questions in one’s Facebook status updates, and the uncanny mix between promotional messages and conversation starters, were quite enlightening.
Beyond these areas, Kerpen teaches us the minutiae of using Facebook ads, suggesting that we should zoom in on targeted users, and couple them with free giveaways, contests and sweepstakes to drive up our number of “likes” on corporate Facebook pages. Examples include Neutrogena, which specifically targeted acne-prone teens for its Facebook ads, and Starbucks’ highly contextualized ads.
To highlight the point on admitting one’s mistakes, Kerpen shared how JetBlue and Domino’s Pizza CEOs use 2 to 3 minute YouTube videos to sincerely apologize to customers for their organisation’s screw ups. These measures, coupled with the clever use of social media to highlight recovery measures, helped both brands to clamber back to recovery after disastrous outcomes.
What I especially “like” about the book (quoting the author!) is its liberal use of case studies that bring each lesson to life. In the section on sharing stories, Kerpen shared how he pitched major brands to create a promotion around his wedding as a “sponsored” event, generating lots of buzz in mainstream and online media while contributing proceeds to a good cause.
Overall, “Likeable Social Media” is a useful companion for anybody keen to tap on the growing importance of social networks for one’s business.