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    The Rules of Social Media Engagement

    New Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council reports offer internal, external action plans.

    ATLANTA -– For convenience store retailers striving to leverage the power of social media, the final installments of a study by the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council (CCRRC) offer detailed rules of engagement for developing social media strategies and action plans to address internal and external audiences.

    CCRRC recently released the final two reports from its multipart study, "Untangling the Social Web: Insights for Users, Brands and Retailers." Part 6 addresses how to develop an external social Web strategy, while Part 7 details how to develop an internal social Web strategy.

    "The medium has grown so quickly, leaving some marketers overwhelmed and uncertain where to start," said Michael Sansolo, research director for CCRRC North America. The Council’s reports provide ideas to marshal organizational support from reluctant executives who may not understand the potential value this approach can offer a brand. “Interestingly, lack of understanding by C-level leaders – not money – often is the greatest inhibitor to success," he noted.

    In regards to external audiences, the CCRRC study offers the following insights:

    • Know yourself! Before engaging, establish a focus. Know what you want to say to the world about your product/service and company.
       
    • You don’t have to be everywhere. The social Web presents a monumental number of opportunities. Focus on the outlet(s) that make the most sense for your brand, as well as your customers and prospects.
       
    • Determine how to measure success. This novel environment enables different ways to influence target audiences and requires new methods of evaluation.

    On the other hand, the key takeaways for internal social media strategies are:

    • Eliminate corporate-speak. Communicate in a conversational tone.
       
    • Encourage interactive exchanges. An honest environment leads to a supportive community. Respond swiftly and effectively – even to negative comments -- to turn internal staff into company champions.
       
    • Know that you’re entering the Wild, Wild West. Rules are few and far between. However, it is possible to create structure and guidelines for this fluid space.

    "The social Web has become a transformative force in our society," Sansolo said. "It grew quickly to encompass billions of active participants within years of its creation. Not only are the numbers incredible, but it has completely changed communications, giving every individual equal power."

    The previous five installments of the CCRRC study have covered Assessing the Social Networking Landscape; Identifying the Allure of Social Networking; Social Networking Personas; The Value of Social Networking for Brands and Retailers; and The Effectiveness of Professional Social Networking.

    Click here to download all seven installments of "Untangling the Social Web: Insights for Users, Brands and Retailers."

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