February 14, 2010

Building Relationships Online

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What do happy people on Valentine's Day and successful social media campaigns have in common? Relationships. Both are engaged in meaningful relationships with their significant others whether it is a boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband or consumer/prospect/customer. Since I am no love doctor, I'm not going to discuss the merits of successful personal relationships, but I am going to take a look at social media relationships and what leads to a good one!

Twitter, Facebook, blogs and YouTube have created platforms for you to view, share and respond to information that is is relevant to you. However, a person is much less likely to respond and engage in a meaningful, relevant conversation with someone if they do not have some type of a relationship. Therefore, organizations must start all social media campaigns by building relationships with key audiences. If you don't build these relationships, your message won't resonate so your efforts will be wasted. By keeping in mind these four tips, you'll be well on your way to building strong online relationships with your audience:

Listen: Monitor what your target audience is talking about in their social media spheres of influence. What issues are important to them? What challenges are they facing? When and where to they spend most of their time talking? Use this information to guide your social media campaign. Domino's Pizza is a great study on how to effectively this.

Be Relevant: If your message distracts your target audience from what they are trying to do, it will be lost. You have to reach them at the right time, in the right place. Does it reach them at a time when they are looking for this type of information? Is it provided to them in a venue where they would be searching for this type of information or is it pushed on them when they are preoccupied with something else? Comcast's usage of @comcastcares to respond to issues that their customers are discussing on Twitter has been critical to responding to needs in a timely manner and increasing customer loyalty.

Add Value: Too often, we are caught up with promoting our product or service in our social media campaigns. We forget to think about what would be helpful to our audience. Maybe it's a white paper on an popular issue or video on how to better use your product. The goal is to give your target audience something that they find helpful, that makes their lives easier or helps them tackle a challenge they are facing. AMEX OPEN has relied on its social site OPEN Forum as a tool to offer business advice and insight to small business owners. It has become a go-to resource for small biz owners and helped AMEX build strong relationships with this audience.

Be Interesting: No one is attracted to a boring people. If you are insightful, cutting-edge, funny and even controversial, your audience will keep coming back for more. Last year, Skittles let conversations about their product take over their homepage. Some people thought it was brilliant, others thought it was a huge mistake. Either way, it started the conversation.

-Shannon


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