Remember these 4 rules when participating in conversations

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The importance of honesty, ethics, and common sense is something we talk about a lot in word of mouth marketing. Participating in conversations is where we see most marketers forget these fundamentals.

Usually it’s by the well-meaning junior marketer, or the executive who’s passionate about the company but doesn’t understand the rules. It’s your job to educate everyone on the basics — starting with this short list:

1. Never sell
2. Follow the rules
3. Say who you are
4. Take the high road

1. Never sell

Taking part in the word of mouth conversation doesn’t mean selling. Never stick a shameless sales pitch in the conversation. That’s spam, and it will embarrass you and your company. It’s fine to offer ideas, suggestions, and support — but if anything you’re saying feels questionably salesly to you, play it smart by leaving it out.

2. Follow the rules

Remember the fundamental rules of ethical and honest engagement: Don’t pretend to be a customer instead of a marketer, don’t insert marketing messages in unrelated conversations, and don’t use fake logins or usernames. When you’re commenting on someone’s blog or a community’s forum, you’re a guest. Be a good citizen, be honest, and be respectful.

3. Say who you are

Pretending to be someone or something you’re not is one of the worst things you can do. You may get away with it once or twice, but you’ll eventually get busted. The risk of humiliation for your brand just isn’t worth it. Besides, your affiliation with your company gives you more credibility, not less. Just use the 10 magic words: “I work for ____, and this is my personal opinion.”

4. Take the high road

When you’re participating in online conversations about your brand, you’ll eventually run into a few harsh critics and trolls. It happens to everyone. Just remember this: Do not get into a fight. You’ll never win. Stay on the high road. If necessary, share your side of the story — and move on. Save your energy for the happy fans and customers who need your help and support.


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  1. jackie

    Great theory. Is it gona be evert become a reality? honesty, ethics, and common sense ?
    Do they still exist?


  1. Re: #1 Fans – My Response to “” | - August 21, 2012

    […] I could follow the rules, and ignore them (as I should) or I could respond. […]

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