For the past month, I've been reading Engage: The Complete Guide for Brands and Businesses to Build, Cultivate, and Measure Success in the New Web.
This is not a light read – a complete guide may be an understatement! It's a book you really need to sit down, concentrate on and digest one page at a time. Brian has outdone himself with this book – it's comprehensive and may cover every element of branding, the web and social media to date.
Since it's so detailed, it's difficult to write a single post about the entire book. As a result, I'd like to share Brian's compilation of the rules of engagement for business and social media from Chapter 17 (emphasis by me):
- Ensure a consistent, personable, and brand-enhanced tone of voice.
- Add value to each engagement – contribute to a stature and legacy.
- Respect those with whom you're engaging and also respect the forum in which you participate.
- Ensure that you honor copyrights and practice and promote fair use of applicable content.
- Protect confidential and proprietary information.
- Be transparent and be human (well, be believable and helpful).
- Represent what you should represent.
- Know and operate within the defined boundaries.
- Know when to fold 'em and don't engage trolls or fall into conversational traps.
- Keep things conversational as it applies to portraying and reinforcing the personality and value of your brand and the brand you represent.
- Stay on message, on point, and on track with the goals of your role and its impact on the real-world business to which you contribute.
- Don't trash the competition – not directly, anyways.
- Apologize when necessary.
- Be accountable for your actions and offer no excuses.
- Know who you're talking to and what they're seeking.
- Disclose relationships, representations, affiliations, and intentions.
- Practice self-restraint; some things are not worth sharing.
These guidelines not only cover the rules of engagement online, I wish that these were the governing rules of any interaction with employees from any company. Brian goes on to suggest to every reader to put down the book and establish their own guidelines. Having worked for a few companies, I've warned against breaking rules such as these. One company I know loves to take every opportunity to trash (what they believe is) the competition… and each time I believe they embarrass themselves.
This book has a wealth of information and should be a mandatory read for every company diving into new media. Even if you don't read the book from cover to cover, the layout of the book, the detailed reference section, and the well-catalogued index make it the ideal reference book for any marketer's desktop.