There are many well-known examples of companies doing some wonderful stuff with social media and marketing.

Often, though, we hear about the usual suspects. Comcast, Zappos, Sharpie, JetBlue and Southwest are doing great things in the social space, but other businesses have many other fresh social media marketing ideas that you may not have heard about.

What sets them apart and makes them worth a look? These companies share the common traits expressed by three F-words: They are Friendly, Focused, and Fertile. Here’s what I mean:

Friendly. Social platforms and tools aren’t one-way broadcasting tools or mouthpieces to just talk about your own stuff. Instead, they are tools for engagement, and they give a business an enormous opportunity to put a face and personality and voice to the corporate edifice by communicating directly with their customers in a very real way.

In other words, the countenance of a Friendly company is human, genuine and sincere. It’s clear who manages accounts on various platforms, so that customers (or would-be customers) can easily feel the presence of an actual person (or persons).

Who does this well: Wiggly Wigglers, based in Hereford (UK), is a natural gardening company that sells to the backyard gardener. Founder Heather Gorringe is a lively, approachable presence on Twitter (Her husband, “Farmer Phil,” posts there, too.) I particularly like Wiggly Wigglers Facebook page for its friendly, community vibe, and for its model of including the voices of other Wiggly staffers—even its bookkeeper!

Focused. Social platforms give companies the ability to connect with an enormous number of would-be customers. But what’s the use in amassing followers or friends or whatever if you aren’t talking to people who are actually interested in your products or services? What’s the use of collecting friends on Facebook, for example, if you don’t have the capacity to maintain an active presence there?

In other words, 200 active participants are ultimately more meaningful than thousands of passive followers; what really counts is creating engaged relationships.

Smart companies focus their efforts in two ways: growing their social networks by honing in on the quality (not quantity) of a specific network; and selectively choosing which networks suit their business as well as their own individual character and temperament.

Who does this well: Cynthia Sutton at the Silver Barn Antiques maintains an active Facebook presence and a blog, but I like the way that her Twitter presence has allowed her to grow her shop beyond the confines of Columbus, Texas, helping her to take her business national.

Fertile. Every business with a website or an online presence is a publisher, which means producing content is increasingly important to businesses. Smart companies are approaching their publishing with a broader view than a “one and done” campaign approach. They treat anything they develop or create asfertile pieces of a larger whole, cross-pollinating or using their content creatively across more than one social media venue. They are repurposing each piece of content into other formats, or “atomizing” it into smaller bits to share, as my friend Todd Defren terms it.

Fertile companies create opportunities to reach as wide an audience as possible, but using the same source material repackaged in various ways.

Who does this well: Supply chain management company Kinaxis repurposes and reuses its content creatively across its various platforms, which include Twitter, its own community, blogs, Facebook, and so on. Kinaxis might repurpose a white paper, for example, into a series of blog posts, as well as produce a webinar, podcast or video interview with the author, potentially creating 10 things out of one thing. You can browse some of its content library here.

What do you think? Are there other companies you’d consider Friendly, Focused or Fertile? I’d love to hear about them below.

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Source: Open Forum