Connections and Relationships – No Different for Social Media

Why do we make things so complicated? Do you know how to connect with people, build friendly relationships in your personal life? Well, you know, it is really no different in social media!

Two things happened to me this week that prompted this article:

1) Read an article titled “’Being human’ greatest asset in digital media” … did not really care for the content of the article, but this headline, just the one line, says so much.

2) I was interviewing a candidate for my social media group and I was explaining to her the objectives of the team – that is, to help our brands engage, connect and have conversations. I said to her, “think about it … how many conversations do you have with people you have strong relationships with as opposed to people you don’t have a solid relationship with. If we are looking to develop deep brand-user relationships, the approach should be no different than what you do in your personal life.”

The light bulb went off. This is the simplicity that everyone needs to hear. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote an article “Social Media – Concentrate on How, not What.” People continue to ask “How do I do it.” If you simply give a piece of you, or humanize your brand, you will succeed. If you approach your social media endeavors as you would approach your personal socializing, you will succeed.

Underneath all the amazing social media technology (it really blows me away what is possible today), brand relationships are nothing more than leveraging a toolset that helps you identify your target audience and then do what you would do in your social life –

– listen and understand
– engage and converse
– develop and reinforce

This is not a one-shot deal. Not a marketing program. It is (or at least should be) a continuous cycle of how your brand lives. Every step you take, ask yourself, “Am I doing this?” It will be hard at first, because in most cases, this is a pretty drastic business mindset change. It can not be a sell mentality and if you tell me this is what business is about, I’ll ask one simple question … With regards to businesses that have deep relationships with their customers – what happens to them in an economic down turn as opposed to companies without strong customer relationships? History will repeat. Want long term viability and growth? Give this some thought.

Make It Happen!
Social Steve



Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, marketing, marketing plan, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized

19 responses to “Connections and Relationships – No Different for Social Media

  1. Steve, this a wonderful pieces; thanks for sharing it. It’s true, building relationships in social media is key to success. Some times you have to refrain talking business and go personal like remembering someone’s birthday on your social network and send a note; asking how one’s work going, family, etc – those small gestures create bonds beyond the business relationship and make followers stay connected with your cause or business.. of course, you have to keep professional and not too personal. This is how I have been successful with facebook promoting my organization, Uganda Rural Fund ( .

  2. Steve, I appreciated this article, and considering it came to me via a Bill Sobel related group (the “FOBS”), how could I not want to particip-ate? I wish I were writing such perspectives myself. This very effectively reinforces some vital information and best practices how-to that I have been studying from such people as David Meerman Scott and a select growing list of other thought-leader/practitioners writing up a storm. If I might add…another variation of Social Steve’s important theme might be (a) listen (b) engage/converse… and then (c) create “remarkable content” to also quote Seth Godin …which is probably the highest degree of reinforcement. Thanks Steve for the opportunity to “join the conversation”… I’m still working through stage two, that is, working, wishing and hoping to join the ranks of creating remarkable content… or as you characterize it “developing and reinforcing”. Today we all need to be a brand whether at a macro or micro level… any advice and thoughts in further articles and readers comments on “micro-branding” re our own reputations would be appreciated..

  3. Steve,

    Great perspective. How about going one step further, what happens when one uses SM as the jumping off point to maintain an existing relationship, or to maintain contact with someone that one meets in person? What about combining SM contact with old fashioned methods such as hand written snail mail notes and phone calls, does that enhance the relationship better than just the use of SM or just the use of the old fashioned methods?


    • Anne,

      Excellent point. Using soical media to “keep in touch” is very relevant for two reasons – 1) greatly increases the likelihood of having that contact become an advocate for you or your brand, and 2) keeps you or your brand fresh in mind at the time the customer makes purchase decisions.


  4. Hey Steve,

    This is really the point of Social Media Marketing and networking – you have to build an online personality that reflects your character. This includes your interests in career, hobby, family and friends. As in real life, you can expect your profile to change and evolve – and your relationships to do the same. Some people will become critical online advocates; others will drift away. Whether people are only involved in a conversation for a moment, or are there for a longer engagement is really a collaborative effort. I like when people take the additional step to try to meet in person, and I see this quite frequently. Here’s a great opportunity: SES NYC this week – Wendy

  5. Steve,
    Very valid points – was the focus on personal relationships deliberate?

    I would argue that how business relationships are nurtured and developed also crosses over into social media. Business relationships are more than just vendor-customer. It includes suppliers, partners, and even peers within your organisation (IBM is the best example I know of where they’ve taken their culture of networks into the social world).

    • Hi Mark,

      Don’t think the focus was deliberately on personal relationships, but more making sure the communication has a personal touch. It is imperative to communicate that there is a person or group of people behind the brand.

      You make an excellent point that the relationships must go beyond vendor-customer relationships to inlcude partners, suppliers, and organizational peers. Thanks for mentioning this!

      Social Steve

  6. Social Steve, meet Social Stephanie. 🙂

    Seriously, I completely agree with you. Relationship building involves the same steps of trust building no matter if you start online or off. AND …the same rules of engagement apply whether the relationship is for business or pleasure. I talk about this on my blog as well. ( Poke around there and let me know what you think….maybe start with a search on “Question Mark” or “Social Media Striptease.”

    Nice to learn about you….

    Cheers – Stephanie

  7. Social media allows you to expand your presence beyond your immediate network. Who you reach will depend on who you target. Then think through your message. Social media is an excellent tool for pitching your message, which is only believable when there is substance behind it.
    How are you connecting with friends, colleagues and customers to building and cultivate the relationships? It comes down to trust. Relationships are built on trust. Read Career Rx: 2010 Relationships and Tools
    – Lisa

  8. Steve,

    Great job at simplify the process of social media engagement. I found this article via a post you made on LinkedIn.

    One thing to note is that Social Media has been apart of a lives for quite some time now if various forms. Have you seen Brett Borders- History of Social Media YouTube video?

    Social Media are essentially tools (Media) that enable us to be Social easier. However they are just tools, like the telephone.

    And like the telephone, it, by itself, doesn’t build or destroy anything. The building or destroying is only achieved via it’s usage. It’s simply a communication tool/channel that enables the conversation between at least two people at separate ends of the telephone line.

    Now one of the reasons why we are even talking about it and why Social Media has becoming such an relevant part of business is that essentially everyone (or the vast majority) and almost everything we interact with has a “telephone” connected to it.

    We can now easily share, connect, have conversations from almost any online and offline (via literary a mobile phone) property.

    So you are correct there is no difference what so ever we just have better tools now that allow us to communicate from almost everywhere.

    One thing I would suggest is don’t forget the offline. I focus on tweetups and Social Media enabling events here in Boston. There is nothing like physically connecting with people in addition to virtually connecting to develop & strengthening relationships.

    -@JoselinMane / @BostonTweetUp

  9. Be real.
    Be yourself.
    Be genuine.

    Also in Social Media your connection with others is a reflection of your connection with you.

  10. Great post Steve. Someone once told me that the true path to effective networking, whether in person or via the social stratosphere is by PUTTING YOURSELF OUT THERE! What you wrote in this post reinforces that very notion. Great writing Steve.

    BTW I blog about similar topics at http://branddynamite and tweet @branddynamite if you’d like to follow more.

    Looking forward to the back and forth!


  11. Terrific work! This is the type of information that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher!

  12. I like that little model/graph of relationship reinforcing. Its what I try to do in my relationships.

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