Last panel of Social Media Week was held (ironically to my mind) in that iconic tower of old media, the Conde Nast building. Moderated by Wired's bureau chief, John C. Abell, panel explored branding via social media and included Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep Focus (AMC Mad Men's digital agency), Brian Morrissey of Adweek and a guy everyone seemed to know except me--SM superstar Gary Vaynerchuk who has used twitter/youtube/video blogging to parlay a passion for wine and a talent for selling it into a huge (and hugely remunerative) personal brand.
Much of the panel was devoted to what brands should not do in digital space, given that what they should do is rife with exceptions and caveats.
Don't concentrate on creating a brand profile and promotions, to the exclusion of CRM aspects of social media. A brand needs to facilitate conversations between people. Or, as Schafer put it, social media marketing "is a relationship, not a tryst."
Don't just talk, listen. More important than using Twitter is using Twitter Search to find out what people are saying about you.
Don't set up an online suggestion site if you're going to use it as Starbucks did: to tout ideas suggesting corporate policies the company has already decided to put into place. Morrissey pointed out that companies don't make decisions from suggestions on message boards and called mystarbucksidea.com simply a "marketing figleaf."
Don't make false claims. Doing so can get you into trouble faster in social media than it ever did in the world of traditional advertising. "Now if you lie," said Vaynerchuk, "you'll be called out quick. Because twitter is word of mouth on steroids."
Some follow-up questions were from ad agency types wrestling with the problem of how to change mindsets of people around them. Trying to get an old-line company to revisit entrenched values, Schafer said, can be like "turning around a battleship in a canal."
But this way, dreadnoughts. Or we'll never get out of here.
Dare I admit that almost as interesting to me as the panel was the glimpse on my way out of famed Conde Nast cafeteria (Friday's specials: Philly Cheese Steak and Sushi) and Anna Wintour breezing slenderly past, wearing signature sunglasses and magenta plaid coat.