2010 – Don’t Think Social Media, Think Relationships

2010 is not going to be the year of social media. 2010 is going to be the year of relationships. Yes, it will be the social media toolset that invigorates relationships. There is a subtle mindset that will separate winners and losers.

At the end of last year I had a conversation with a senior executive about bringing a social media strategy to his global company. Referring to his colleagues, he said, “We have to make them understand that social media is more than just Twitter and Facebook.” Social media is not about catching the hype of Twitter and Facebook, but connecting with your customers and building relationships. There should be a social media strategy and plan before jumping on the bandwagon!

The strategy must be about building relationships with potential customers, and strengthening relationships with existing customers. Do not think of social media as an advertising and promotion vehicle, but rather a relationship builder. How do you build relationships in your personal life? Transfer this “skill set” to your professional social media activity.

Social media is often viewed as a marketing endeavor. For the most part this makes sense, but I would not limit social media to being in the hands of the marketing group. When I think of social media, I am reminded of a quote many years back from David Packard (cofounder of HP) – “Marketing is far too important to leave to the marketing department.”

Social media = customer relationships. Thus, social media is not just a “marketing thing.” In a company, who is concerned with customer relationships? Hopefully you answered everyone. This means that every department should have visibility to the social media program and provide information or monitor activities related to their domain expertise with a focus on how their functional area affects relationships with customers.

If you want a winning social media program – the owner of the social media program in your company must design a program that is customer-centric. They should not focus on advertising, promotion, and certainly not selling. Relationship building in a social media context is about traversing your customer along the “A-Path” – Attention > Attraction > Affinity > Audience > Advocate, as I have previous written about.

Bottom line – use social media to build strong relationships. People usually buy things from people they feel comfortable with. Reinforce your customers’ buying decisions by continuously delivering valuable information through social media outlets in your brand domain expertise. This will build loyal relationships and ultimately turn your customers into advocates – the strongest marketing engine possible.

11 Comments

Filed under brand marketing, brands, customer relations, Facebook, marketing, marketing plan, sales conversion, SEM, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Twitter

11 responses to “2010 – Don’t Think Social Media, Think Relationships

  1. Could not have agreed more with your message. Social Media is a tool to convey your message. What you are “pitching” is critical for the initial buy, but it is the relationship that builds the longer term engagement. One of several articles I have published, “Keeping the Big Picture in Mind” addresses who we are and what are we saying. Please enhoy the read… http://www.chenofskysinger.com/Career_Rx_Keeping_the_Big_Picture_in_Mind.pdf
    Many of the articl

    • Lisa,

      Thanks for your input!

      I would just take exception to one point … in social media you should not be “pitching” something for the “initial buy.” You should be delivering valuable information that makes a target audeince want to first, establish a relationship with you, and second, maybe have interest in your product/service because they have determine you deliver true value to meet their needs.

      Best,
      Social Steve

      • Steve
        Thank you for clarifying my use of the term “pitching”. A “pitch” is what message you wish to convey as it is used in career management. The ability to clearly articulate the value you are able to deliver in a concise manner – as in a “elevator pitch”.
        Thanks,
        Lisa

  2. jose luis

    I completely agree with your message. When will the companies realize of it? It´s as simple as this: I´ve read this web and your posts today. Now I´m writting this message to you; you may answer me tomorrow; by then there will be some kin¡d of friendship or relationship between us. It means than by the end of the week I´ll be your unconditional client¡¡. The ploblem is you don´t sell any products nor advertisement (at least so far¡¡).

    PD: I apologize for any mistakes made in my writting. It´s not about being a fast writter but about being Spanish¡¡

    José Luis

    • Thanks Jose – wow … my unconditional client by the end of the week. I would never suggest or expect that social media will result in that strong of a relationship that quick, but over time – yes. Social media will produce loyal customer and futhermore, advocates. But this will take time, like building a relationship in your personal life.

      Best,
      Social Steve

  3. Thanks for the post Steve. Couldn’t agree more and it blows me away to watch corporations out there mucking it all up when it could be such a valuable tool! Hope you don’t mind but I posted the article on my Facebook & Twitter pages.

    http://www.facebook.com/AvidMarketingSolutionsllc

    http://twitter.com/ChristineAvid

  4. Steve, once again you’ve hit the nail on the head. Also, it’s great because now instead of referring to myself as a Social Media Manager, Analyst or Consultant, I can just let people know that I am a Relationship Therapist.🙂

  5. Steve this feels right. I agree that the focus will be on relationships (purpose) rather than the social media (medium). I have been thinking a lot about what creates value in business and business relationships and wrote a number of articles about trust.

    Trust in data, applications and people in online relationships is vital. You may like to take a look at http://bit.ly/8sQgZ0.

    • Russell,

      I think you bring up very important points about trust and collaboration. In the scenario you described, non-competing companies established synergy and what I have termed “whole product solutions” (back in my days in product management). Thus partnerships and strong relationships evolved.

      Social media opens up new opportunity for a different type of collaboration and trust – that is between company and customers/clients. Thus focusing on relationships as the objective rather than social media as the tool set is key. Trust and collaboration are main attributes of any type of relationship!

      Thanks for your input and the conversation.

      Best,
      Social Steve
      “Make it happen!”

  6. The Australian Government are investing up to $43B in a National Broadband Network. The political justification is that this will drive significant economic value particularly through small business.

    Steve your highlighting the need to focus on the relationship is important because it is through better relationships small businesses will create more value which will give increase the economic value generated by through the NBN. This in turn highlights the need for the government to focus on what is needed by small business to build better relationships with suppliers and customers.

    I would argue that these things are increasing trust in data, applications and people, better payment systems, more flexible and more effective IP systems and ultimately governments have to have a revenue stream to pay for services so a globally integrated taxation system.

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