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Guide to Cultivating Relationships in Social Media

So, you’ve decided to bring your company into the world of social networking. Congratulations on evolving beyond the last stone age (but don’t feel too bad about being behind: online, anything more than five years old is considered to be part of that “stone age”). Social media sites can be a great tool in promoting your company, but their real value comes in what’s termed “relationship marketing” — or advertisements that build long-term connections with customers rather than prompting immediate action. This guide will walk you through the why and how of entering the world of relationship marketing in social media.

Why Use Relationship Marketing?

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When you focus on relationship marketing, you will have several major types of connections. First, you will have “instant action” users who immediately make a purchase. This group is about as much of a minority as Rwandan Pygmies in the U.S., so don’t rely on them too much. Most of your users will fall into one of three groups: “casual,” “committed,” and “dedicated.”

Your casual followers will see your posts, potentially skimming them from time to time, but for the most part will ignore your company. Your committed followers, meanwhile, will read most of your posts and will have a budding sense of loyalty and brand recognition for your company. Best of all, however, your dedicated followers will actively help promote your brand through sharing links, re-tweeting, or otherwise spreading your company through the network.

The brand recognition, sense of relationship, and loyalty found here are items with a beautiful long term yield, blossoming like a field of money flowers. The rewards may take anywhere from weeks to years to show fully, but the end results are fully worthwhile. Here are several things to keep in mind while building that presence.

Branding

If you want to build brand recognition, you have to use all the standard branding tactics. This means that your logo should be visible, present from day one, and consistent between all your products.

Provide Value

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If you want people to pay attention to your posts, you’ll need to give them a reason to do so. This means that your posts must be useful to customers. Keep in mind, though, that some “uses” are more popular than others. For example, if you can provide users with a good laugh, they will love you for it.

Keep a Consistent Voice

You should be posting at least once a week, and typically more (three to fourteen times per week) if you want people to actually remember you. Pay attention to user response, however, to determine the right frequency for your company.

Cross-Market

You should be present and accounted for on as many of the social networks as you can. This includes LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and the blogosphere (via a company blog).

Call On the Existing Community

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If you really want to take off, it’s important that you connect with the movers and shakers of your network. These “key players” are present in every network, with the h2est cross-platform voices coming from the world of blogging. Work to locate and connect with these groups for powerful promotion opportunities.

Social networking is the new frontier of the 2010s, and while you must keep up with its rapidly changing advancements for maximum yield, it’s a very worthwhile endeavor. With the potential to build in customers a deep sense of connection and loyalty to your company, the use of relationship marketing extends well beyond a single purchase and into the realm of making lifelong customers.

Post imanges: by gfpeck, by Spirit-Fire, by aqsahu

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Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as a base for her writing, tutorials and her guest blogging project, MyBlogGuest.com.
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4 thoughts on “Guide to Cultivating Relationships in Social Media

  1. A very good resource here Ann. Thanks for taking the time to lay out these points. It seems like the difficult thing for most small businesses is taking the time to cultivate true relationships via social media channels. While big businesses often have dedicated web folks, small businesses tend to have to wear many hats throughout any given day. Finding the time to truly connect with their audience can be challenging at times. Thanks again for this post.

  2. Here is Same Story

    As social media policies are developed, one factor that needs to be considered is relationships. Since social media is ideally about creating and cultivating relationships with other people, a social media policy needs to consider those relationships and respect them while also making it clear to employees that they also have a relationship with the company.

    In fact, a social media policy should, right from the beginning, make it clear that there is a relationship between the company and the employee. That kind of understanding can help policy makers frame their policy in terms of showing employees how that relationship is impacted by their actions on social media. At the same time, policy makers do want to consider that employees are using social media to be social, to answer questions, share ideas, and otherwise cultivate relationships with other people for a variety of reasons.

  3. Consistency is one of the hardest points we have getting across to our clients. You can build up a large Twitter or Facebook following over months and lose it pretty quickly through neglect. All of that hard (and previously consistent) work down the drain in weeks.

  4. Building relationships with people makes you network stronger and you will develop a large network of prospects to whom you can promote your services and products for your business.