Another speed summary from the Austin 2010 Social Commerce Summit – Dimitri Siegel, Executive Director of Marketing for fashion apparel retailer Urban Outfitters, sharing the company’s 12 rules for doing social marketing.

The Big Idea: Social Marketing is About Building Personal Relationships

1. Hang out with the Cool Kids: Social media allows Urban Outfitters marketing team to connect with category influencers – young designers, street fashion photographers, fashion bloggers etc, and invite them into the brand by featuring them on the company blog, inviting them to do guest posts, moderate forums etc.

2. Don’t Be a Snob: Influencers are key, but be inclusive with social media – e.g, run online contests (e.g. photo contest – images of love).  Anyone can enter, but keep editorial control (“we cut down mercilessly”).  Use entries not only in promotional material but to learn about and get closer to your target market

3. Be a Good Listener: User content is useless unless you use it; use social media an a) insight b) trendspotting and c) customer feedback resource

4. Ask Good Questions: Social media is not about just listening, it’s about interacting – asking questions, inviting people to be creative – e.g. online contest to showcase Lo-Fi High Style).  Remember people are brands now – and they have multimedia channels they need to fill – so help them produce content they can share on their networks

5. Make Some Introductions: The key role of a brand in social media is to be a host – introducing people to each other e.g. by hosting user Q&A forums (what should I wear with this?…), hosting conversations between customers and designers, vendors, and the brand team. It’s about authentic interaction between people.

6. Stop Talking About Yourself So Much: Use social media to let your customers be the voice for a while, featuring UGC in emails and in marketing collateral, giving over Twitter stream to what others are saying about you, adding customer content to online merchandising

7. You Need a Good Party Spot: Bring social media to life with online party spots – online and offline.  Run social events IRL (in real life) to create content (party photos etc) that can be syndicated across social space. Have a digital party space where you can ‘play’ with people online- e.g. an experimental blog (the Urban Outfitters blog drives a significant amount of e-commerce traffic)

8. Music Can Really Set the Mood: If music is important to your target market – use it to bring your brand to life in social media.  e.g. Music Mondays on Twitter, Urban Outfitter give away 5 tracks from undiscovered/unsigned bands – the tracks become social currency.  Have a storefront in iTunes (make it easy for people to access)

9. Be Spontaneous: Social media, to be authentic, is spontaneous, not staged.  Real people connecting with real people in real time.  Plan but not too much

10. Don’t Take Yourself Too Seriously: Social media is a conversational, informal ‘chatty’ medium, use humor, feature/link to kooky content that makes you smile (e.g. Tom Selleck Waterfall Sandwich site)

11. Be Vulnerable: If you are asking people to share stuff about their lives, it’s not okay to not share about yourself.  Urban outfitter ran an online photo contest ‘Orginal Icon’ of style-Moms, with a contest invitation featuring a photo of the company’s director of email marketing’s Mom.

12. Keep in Touch: Social media is about building relationships with people you want to stay in touch with – and these relationships can be mutually beneficial e.g. Urban Outfitters kept in touch with Jane Aldridge, a shoe blogger they once featured, and who ended up helping the compnay develop a line of shoes.  From social influencer to designer.  Similarly after working with Shelby Dimarco – blogger, photographer, and collage-artist on a email campaign, Urban Outfitters ended up hiring her

Finally, on social marketing ROI, Dimitri Siegel recommended brands first focus on getting the I (investment) right – how important is people investment t0 you – investing in personal relationships between people in the company and people they want to stay in touch with.  Social media is not about technology, it’s about people and making real connections with people they want to be friends with.