Talking About Your Relationships with Your Social Media Psychologist

Come in. Relax. Make yourself comfortable. Feeling a bit uncertain about your relationships – social media relationships? I am here to help.

In the past I have emphasized the importance of establishing relationships via social media as opposed to looking at social as a sales channel. And many still have significant problems establishing and maintaining their relationships. If we would just let “brand relationships” follow the rationale of “personal relationships” we would make it so much easier on ourselves. So think about those close to you in your own life and apply the same mechanics. While we don’t typically think of “mechanics” when it applies to personal relationships, I would suggest we do for brand relationships – because it is not so natural in a business setting. We have been programmed to sell, sell, sell.

There are four elements that must be present to have strong brand relationships.

How well do you know your target market? Have you walked in their shoes? You will never have a strong relationship if you do not thoroughly understand your audience and their perspective. According to Wikipedia, “empathy is the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings (such as sadness or happiness) that are being experienced by another sentient or semi-sentient being. Someone may need to have a certain amount of empathy before they are able to feel compassion.”

Forget marketing (and of course forget selling). Simply think about delivering value. Think about your strongest personal relationships. Your strongest relationships provide you great support, love, or something that you truly value. Social media usually starts with content. What content can you give your audience that they value? As a brand, deliver valuable content without a hidden agenda.

Transparency and Trust
Transparency and trust go hand and hand. There is absolutely an aspect of trust in strong relationships and if you are not totally transparent, you are likely hiding something. How can you have trust if you are hiding something? If there is a problem with your product or service that makes you uncomfortable (and eliminates your ability to be transparent),“Do the Right Thing” (in the words of Spike Lee). Fix it, don’t hide it. Your degree of comfort of being transparent is a great barometer on the real strength of your offering and your organization.

Have you ever been in a great relationship that was one sided? Yeah, I know, rhetorical question. So, are you ready to put as much energy, commitment, and passion into the relationship that you seek from your target audience? Do not expect what you are unwilling to give.

When you think about it, there really is not anything earth-shattering said here. I’d almost expect the response, “yeah – so what?” But for some reason, we seem to lose our rational thinking with regards to establishing relationships between customer and brands. Remember these four elements of strong brand relationships – empathy, value, transparency, and mutuality. The acronym KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid comes to mind, but let’s change it to Brian Solis‘ version … KISS – Keep It Simple and Shareable.

I hope you feel better. See you next week … no charge.

Make It Happen,
Social Steve



Filed under brand communication, brand marketing, brand reputation, brands, social media, social media marketing, Social Steve, socialmedia, SocialSteve, Uncategorized, Word of Mouth Marketing

14 responses to “Talking About Your Relationships with Your Social Media Psychologist

  1. Thanks Steve,
    what a great article as always.

  2. Hi Dr. Steve,
    Let’s hope your readers don’t experience “transference” as they are wont to do in their trips to the psychologist. Yes I’m kidding.
    I like the analogy — there’s a psychology to everything we do and your columns always have a lot of personality. I already like you better than Dr. Phil (I hope your company isn’t his publisher; you know more than he does and you are thoroughly consistent aka “always on a Sunday” rain or shine.)
    One of my “other” interests in a professional world that encourages you to have several dimensions is counseling a certain group of folks with a specific problem, and for that, our brand of counselor has adopted a very good acronym that I will share in my website to come. One of the aspects of it is the word “REALISTIC.” When you work with a psychologist (and when you communicate through social media), you need to set realistic expectations, and continually revisit your plan of what that looks like, as responses come in and you engage accordingly. If your readers follow your categories of empathy, value, et al, they will be going on a REALISTIC path and setting realistic expectations for themselves, and in cases like mine, for clients.
    In a world where social media is still alien to many people still, and many people we serve, we must follow Steve’s ideas here to help show what the new reality is… as it continues changing each day.
    Thanks Steve.

  3. Hi Steve,

    Mirrors a lot of who and what I am seeing and hearing here in the UK too, whats gets me everytime how business people [not all but many] have just about sussed out real time networking. But then go back online and sell, blast and market through social media channels.

    What hits me is why people don’t like to be natural and themselves as they would in a personal relationship. Maybe there is more to it than that, its business not life and thats where the problem lies. I think the problem will go on and on and on.


    People treat the whole B2B B2C and so on as people to people and get their heads round the fact that ‘Social Media’ is simply part of ‘people’ lives. Not something magical in the corner of the room to go and ‘do social media’ like you’re at school sat on the carpert waiting for a story or at your desk doing time in a ‘lesson’.

    As part of life social media will slip away as a term over the years and will just be part of ‘the internet’ and a way to communicate, real people in everyday life simply communicate effectively with whats available. Also certain areas of society don’t go to the psychologist they just get on with life. Thats not a dig at you Steve.

    So maybe business ‘people’ should simply follow your guide and regain the ability to act naturally. After all it’s human nature to communicate and build communities through engaging and building relationships.

    Happy to come over though and set up a couch in Times Square to help people 🙂

  4. It’s no brainer to see that social media is here to stay for good. Given vast variety of the existing channels to choose and stick with, it’s time for such a hot space to enter into a new category. There is a need for a portal to provide a quick and intelligent decision for both the consumer and the enterprise about their online connections.

    A Platform to Help us to Distinguish Our Quality vs. Quantity Friends, Fans, Followers, and Companies

    Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Flickr and others have been doing a decent job of providing additional marketing exposure and even in some cases, additional revenue. However, as more and more social networking sites pop up, how do you manage your brand across all these channels? Maybe more importantly, which one of these sites should you select as the one that will help you best reach your target audience? The proliferation of the social media avenues is becoming overwhelming.

    This glut of information reminds me of the early 90’s when WWW was adopted broadly by the general public. Every company rushed to have a presence, to the point it became literally impossible to find the right information on the Web. That’s when a better generation of search engines – at first the Yahoo! and then Google – entered the market and helped us find the most relevant information by just typing simple keywords in their search box. If you had asked before Google launched, if there was a need for another search engine – most would have said no, we already have those….

    Then came Web 1.0 & 2.0 – Youtube, Flickr, myspace, Facebook, Twitter and countless others have turned everyday people into content producers, influencers and experts. We basically tripled down on the information overload How do you know which channels to select for deploying your social media strategy? How do you know which one is the right channel to let your fans and followers to find you, your products, and services? Most importantly, who is Joe Smith that is recommending that person, that company, that product?

    I hope my can accomplish such a mission. The site is not another social networking platform. Yet the portal to all your existing social media channels. The platform helps you, your fans, your potential clients to make an intelligent decision as to which company to connect to or follow via which social media channels and why? It’s free!

    CEO & Founder

    • But on the topic, does it help build relationships. Elias – with all due respect, I have emphasized the importance of listening first, them having a conversation to build relationships. You have commented here (entered the conversation). Did you listen at all? maybe a good, even great platform, but I would suggest that you will have more success with it, if you insert it appropriately into a conversation. Listen first.

      Good luck,

  5. Steve,

    Customer relationships in the virtual world may have more depth than customer relationships in the real world. CFOs around the globe should take notice when thinking about their social media spend and consider bringing flowers the next time they meet with a customer.


  6. KH

    Great, this post or article fits perfectly in my learning by doing (or DIY) about social media. it gives clues related to your previous writing [the year of relationships] that i use for my ow experimental work. I found out that using spychology in my social media activity is powerful and brings in clients instead of wasting time with looking for jobs. It tuns out that i may now share this with clients who need to make their brand grow in social and trans media…..(lol) kh

  7. Steve, I so enjoy reading your articles because they are so on point and succinctly and ably capture the essence of the argument. In this case, this is all stuff we learn in communications, international relations, diplomacy and other classes where relationships affect the outcome of business. In fact, Business Development is built on understanding, empathizing, following up, etc. Yet, many seem to disregard all that they have learned when they transfer their activities and/or practice to the internet. Why? Probably because there is a sense of anonymity and disconnect since the “feeling of the personal” is gone: your closest relationship is with your mouse. Regardless, we cannot stop repeating the need for the kinds of intuition, knowledge and insight you enumerate here. Thank you again for providing another helpful resource for support of relationship building and how to do it.

    • Hi Migdalia –

      Thanks for your kind words. You capture such an important point … “many seem to disregard all that they have learned when they transfer their activities and/or practice to the internet. Why? Probably because there is a sense of anonymity and disconnect since the ‘feeling of the personal’ is gone: your closest relationship is with your mouse.”

      The challenge (and opportunity!) is to use technology (Internet) in a humanized way. As I mentioned, this is not natural, so we must make conscious efforts.


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