Many brands fail in the social landscape because, while customers are looking for a long-term relationship, brands are looking to score right away. In many ways, social media is the courtship phase of a new relationship. You have to focus on listening and getting to know the other person – what they’re looking for in a partner, their wants and needs. It’s understanding what they’re looking for from you, what they expect from you, to keep the relationship alive for the long run and not just what you’re willing to do today while everything is still fresh and new. It’s giving without asking for anything in return. You can’t build a solid foundation for a relationship by constantly asking for favors. You have to send flowers, open the car door and watch the occasional chick flick. You can’t just show up in a beer stained tank top with a bag of pork rinds and expect her to fall all over you.
Gary Vaynerchuk explains it as, “Everyone in social-media marketing is acting like a 19-year-old. You’re trying to close on the first transaction. Too many businesses are looking for rapid monetization from their social-media marketing efforts, acting like a hormone-induced teenage male with his prom date. Instead, take it slower.”
Although the comment that “content is king” has become very cliché, it’s still one of the most important aspects of beginning a new relationship through social media. These days, there are far too many options in the world to just settle for mediocrity. There has to be something of substance there, something that your customers can embrace or find value in, that make entering into that relationship worthwhile for them. You have to earn that “Like” or “Follow” – they’re not just going to give it to you. Personally, I check the feed to see their past history – what kind of content they have put out previously and how often they make updates. Do I find value in entering into this relationship? Believe me, your customers are doing this too.
Don’t think you can just coast after entering into this new relationship – it’s up to you to maintain it. Keep the fire stoked and the intimacy alive. Give your best, give often, listen, respond and stay active in the conversation to show you care more than you demand and you’ll be amazed at how much more willing your customers are to give back once you finally ask something of them. Learn from what they like, share and comment on, and adapt the conversation accordingly, but be genuine. Don’t be afraid to reach outside of your comfort zone and give them access to the part of your world that not everyone gets to be a part of.
To be successful in social media, you can’t monetize every click, or focus on the ROI of every impression. Understand that many people will already have preconceived notions of what you expect based on their past relationships with other brands. Maybe they’ve experienced a needy brand that bombarded them with requests or was burned by another that never listened. Be different. Don’t focus on immediate results, but remember that you’re building value, retention and a life-long relationship. Take it slow and the prize will be sweeter. These are your brand ambassadors and hopefully your life partners.