In a webinar Monday, Dmitri Siegel shared his twelve rules of social marketing he uses as the Executive Director of Marketing for Urban Outfitters. The big idea? Social marketing is about building personal relationships with your customers, Dmitri says. We discussed two of his rules in our previous post – “hang out with the cool kids” but “don’t be a snob.” Here are three more tips from the presentation.

Ask Good Questions. Social media is not about just listening, it’s about interacting – starting conversations as well as listening to them. Asking questions invites your customers to be creative. Remember that your customers are their own brands now, Dmitri says, with multimedia channels they need to fill as well. Help them produce content they can share on their networks.

For example, last year Urban Outfitters did a “lo-fi, high style” sweepstakes/contest, where customers shared the cool things they had created on a small budget – not just outfits, but furniture and art pieces as well. As photos from customers started rolling in, the UO team found that their customer base is as beautiful and creative as the brand’s professionally done photo shoots. Today, when Urban Outfitters mashes up their own professional photos with those submitted by customers, even the marketing team can’t tell the difference – which is exactly as it should be. Their customers’ creativity inspires Dmitri and the design team.

Make some introductions. The key role of a brand in social media is to be a good host, introducing people with shared interests and giving them a place to connect. Brands can do this by hosting customer Q&A forums to facilitate conversations between customers and designers, vendors, the brand team, and each other. Create authentic interactions between real people around your products, brand, and associations.

Customers recommend apparel and accessories to form complete outifts.

Urban Outfitters added community Q&A to their site, which created a good format for introducing customers to one another. They now get close to 300 questions each week, anything from “Should I get this a size up?” to “What shoes should I pair with this top?” Responses come from other customers and UO designers.

It’s less about numbers, and more about one-to-one connections. Social media can’t be measured solely by impressions – the number of people who potentially see the information – like traditional advertising. The deep connections with individuals that make social media so valuable build over time, and with an effective nurturing plan can create an annuity that continues to grow.

On social marketing ROI, Dmitri recommends brands first focus on getting the “I” (investment) right – investing in personal relationships between people in the company and people they want to stay in touch with. Social media is not about technology, Dmitri says. It’s about people and making real connections with people they want to be friends with.

Social Commerce Trends Report

Dmitri Siegel’s 12 rules to social marketing are pulled from his presentation at the 2010 Social Commerce Summit. All 12 are available in the Social Commerce Trends report.

Download the free report here.

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