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Business, Society - Written by on Thursday, October 8, 2009 9:13 - 6 Comments

Gautam Lamba
Road Rules: Interpreted For Social Media

Organizations are recognizing the need to expand into the social media space to better understand their customers. Stories like those of Jet Blue, Whole Foods and Dell are becoming more widespread as these firms show concrete, quantifiable measures of success. With the ease of access to product and brand communities (corporate and 3rd party) companies now want a set of operating guidelines. How do you actually manage the interaction? And, what rules must guide the conversations and behaviours displayed by employees on such message boards?

Stemming from other posts and discussions about this very issue, I put forth the following list of simple guiding principles that I think can provide a starting point for organizations entering this sphere of communication.

Although, there is no one single, policy structure that can fit all situations and organizations, the one thing I do take a strong stance on, is the need to keep the rule simple to understand and relatable, which is the reason I chose to use the rule of the road as my reference point.

Rule of the Road

The Social Media Interpretation

Don’t drive through amber and red traffic lights Obey forum rules, play on an equal level as your customers; remember that participating is a privilege not a right
Give advance notifications and signals when turning or changing lanes Make sure your online customers know of all changes in policies and procedures. Don’t give unpleasant surprises
Maintain distance from cars around you Customers want you to listen to their opinion; they do not want you to record and chart their every move. i.e. keep your distance
Driving while distracted Don’t attempt to solve all problems at once. Identify areas where you can provide the most value
Perform maintenance checks at regular intervals Take time to evaluate the results you set out to achieve and the actual attainment thereof. Also, check on adequacy and relevance of your capital resources (people, conversations and servers)
Practice patient driving You need to wait for results (after putting in your effort). Plan on being active at least until all avenues have been exhausted

Use your mirrors to constantly scan your surroundings to position yourself on the road Opinion mining, feedback, and sentiment analysis (your ‘mirrors’) help to keep a track on your customers’ basic intent. Use the data to align your product with their needs
Yield to other cars If you and the user are both responding to a query, sit back and let the user give answers. User generated information has a higher value for customers
Communicate with other drivers

Indicate your followers of all changes in strategy. Don’t leave anything to assumptions and unsaid
Pull-over for Emergency Vehicles Prioritize your customers according to the urgency of their concerns
Do not partake in street racing Don’t compete with other users for accolades or reputation
Be prepared for collisions and report it to the authorities ASAP Plan for situations of conflict; notify supervisors to mitigate the damage
Obey law enforcement personnel When participating on 3rd party forums, make sure you play by their rules as an equal participant

Most Importantly, Don’t drink and Drive…well that’s just good advice

My point in putting up this list is to mainly drive discussion around the subject of, what constitutes ‘good’ social policy? Hopefully this provides a springboard from which to launch this much needed debate.


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links for 2009-10-09 « lugar do conhecimento
Oct 9, 2009 5:04

[...] Road Rules: Interpreted For Social Media [...]

Ben Ziegler
Oct 9, 2009 10:36

I like this… a lot. Applying rules of thumb (or of the road!) are great strategy – especially in times of uncertainty; i.e., the social media landscape looking ahead.

Arun Kumbhat
Oct 27, 2009 12:24

You’ve ‘simply’ caught the wisdom.
Congratulations Gautam.

Rani devasar
Nov 30, 2009 1:01

I coudn’t agree with you more. U have caught all the relevant rules, my only wish ? that we all follow them. Life would be so much safer for all of us.

Rani devasar
Nov 30, 2009 1:03

have posted my comments already.
Just saying that u managed to put ur finger on ALL the relevant points.If only ALL of us followed them, life wouldn’t be in such peril every time we venture oyt on the roads.

Potty Training
Feb 27, 2010 3:38

LOL this is a VERY creative post and the best part is you made a very strong connection between driving and business.

Who would be the cops?

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