Susan Murphy wrote a post a couple of months ago called Choose Your Own Adventure. The post played off the children’s book series to discuss how social media really provides people the opportunity to opt-in or out of any particular group or conversation. But really social offers a larger Choose Your Own Adventure principle, which is break rules when you see fit and reap the benefits or the consequences.
Social media winners, at least during the pioneer stage, represent a group of entrepreneurial spirits who went out and broke away from established business norms to create their own voices. People like Arianna Huffington and Jack Dorsey.
D.J. Waldow and Jason Falls talk about breaking marketing best practice rules in their book The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing.
We live in a time when pundits dictate the way it should be, where best practices dominate conversations. From a business standpoint, the only rudder should be customers and a brand’s larger community.
Serving customers, building loyalty, communicating well with customers (regardless of channel) is about understanding what motivates them. Apple, while currently in a down period, built a masterful brand by not offering a direct voice in social media. This was in spite of pundits ranting that brands must have social media accounts in Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc., etc.
There are no rules.
Brands are maintained by companies, but carried forth by people. People and word of mouth extend well beyond social media. In the end, brands should choose to serve customers with a wow type of outreach versus breaking a best practice.
People consider me to be a consistent blogger and author in the space, but one of the best lessons I got was from another author, David Meerman Scott. David told me he didn’t read other marketing voices because he didn’t want his thinking to become clouded.
I don’t go as far as David and still read a few marketing and PR voices, but generally, I don’t listen to their commandments about social media anymore. So when I have been criticized for not maintaining a Facebook page, auto tweeting and unfollowing negative voices, I keep doing the same things. Because I don’t really give a damn.
It’s my adventure, and my decision how to serve readers with the understanding that I win or lose based on those actions. I serve based on what works with the people I am trying to cultivate. And sometimes I make shifts to attract different readers or move to a new value offering even though the social media establishment doesn’t understand.
As to the unfollowing whining that caused Susan’s post and is a sub-theme in mine, sometimes unsubscribing from people is the best thing you can do. It sets a clear boundary, and lets the other person know you’re not investing in the relationship anymore.
It’s ironic that the media celebrated Kobe Bryant unfollowing Dwight Howard this weekend for his move to Houston, but social media experts can’t deal with similar moments. It may be hard to come to terms with the fact that their voice may not be welcome after a spout of disagreements. Instead they whine that X is shutting out the entire spectrum of voices. Just move on. Or if it bugs you that badly, look in the mirror and find out why.
Follow your customer rudder and choose your own marketing adventure. If it happens to include a social media best practice, even better.
What say you?
An earlier version of this post ran on the Vocus blog. Featured image by Lenna Young Andrews.