Last spring I worked with my good friend and super-engagement strategist Ellis Reavey to better understand what social media is and how best to be a social brand, mostly because we wanted to be ready for when clients started asking to stick a TV spot on Facebook to check-off the Social Media box on their new media checklists.
I think one of the best practices that came out of that exercise that hasn't been mentioned yet in the meme is to not start a social media group centered around your brand. Most marketing folk don't work on brands that a lot of people want to be friends with on the internet. Let's face it. I drink a lot of Diet Coke, but I have no desire to write on Diet Coke's Wall. Maybe some people would, but they are probably into boy bands and Notre Dame football and I probably wouldn't get along with them.
I think a better way to go about this is to find communities that already exist and figure out a way to help them do what they do. If there's not a group specifically for your brand, find a tangent. If you're a couch company, find a social network of people who want to sit down. If you're a toothpaste, find a social network of people with one remaining tooth. If you're a country artist, find a social network of people who hate music.
I've worked on brands in the past that have had HUGE enthusiast communities that they completely spurned in favor of creating their own social media type thing, and lets just say that it didn't quite pay off in the end.
So maybe a pithy awkwardly worded shorter way to say it is this: Help relevant communities exist better on their terms and on their turf.