Successful selling online still involves relationship building for many brands. Unfortunately, as small business marketers, we tend to focus on traditional advertising and marketing without much investment in building relationships on social media.
According to Harvard Business Review, an influential brand is associated with not only a customer’s direct experience with an offering but also their relationship with the business that produces it. Therefore, before the selling begins, we need to consider the impact of relationships on customer acquisition and retention.
Social media presents a terrific opportunity to build relationships online before a person or a business becomes a customer. Social media is a lower cost marketing channel, which is appealing. Yet, many businesses overlook the benefits of building relationships on social media. Businesses end up in “sales mode” and fail to understand the similarities and differences between social selling and advertising.
Your brand should embrace building relationships on social media because it contributes to the “know, like and trust” factor, which often boost sales and conversions. If you’re not sure where to begin, here are some mistakes to avoid:
1. Don’t ‘nickel and dime’ your audience.
➡️ Instead: provide free value that wows and delights!
When you provide value, you’re valued.
Solving a problem, teaching a skill, or entertaining your target audience all illustrate your value proposition. In the end, the value is your underlying product or service. It’s one of the reasons customers choose to buy from your brand versus your competition.
Even better is providing value to your tribe at no charge. Free value creates raving fans that can’t wait to share your business with the world. Wouldn’t it be great to have fans eager to buy from you or promote you by word of mouth?
Once you help someone, you prove that your brand is the real deal, which results in trust and relationship building.
2. Don’t participate in ‘share the love’ days.
➡️ Instead: share the love EVERY day! (and twice on Sundays.)
When connecting with others via social media, it is better to give than to receive. Dedicate ten minutes a day to “sharing the love” with your supporters, influencers, and those with whom you’d like to connect. Nowadays, the term for the mutual sharing of love is often referred to as “reciprocity.”
What does reciprocity do? It builds relationships and bonds. It opens the door to new connections. When you do an act of kindness, people notice your generosity—and that can be valuable to your brand’s perception. Sharing the love may also strengthen the “like” factor.
Examples of reciprocity include:
• Sharing posts and blogs
• Comments and likes
• Unsolicited testimonials
3. Don’t be shy and closed off in an attempt to be professional.
➡️ Instead: be personable and share some personal info to show off your brand!
To be in a relationship, a sense of familiarity must exist. Being friendly and sharing some (not all!) personal information allows us to get to know each other.
When we spend time together in person, we have the advantage of getting to know one another’s personality through verbal and physical expressions. When making a connection online, it takes more effort to express emotion, personality, and voice.
Hence, it’s helpful to share personal information with your fans to show off your personality and brand. Sharing can help differentiate your business from your competitors by making a memorable impression. Sharing a story or being lightly humorous, for example, makes you stand out and conveys your brand’s individual flavor.
When you share, you strengthen your online brand and give people the chance to know, like, and trust you.
4. Don’t be a know-it-all.
➡️ Instead: admit when you don’t know and reach out to experts!
People do not expect you to know everything. In fact, you come across as more relatable and human when you’re real and honest. Obviously, if you’re discussing a topic or a product in your niche during a live presentation, there is an expectation you will be somewhat of an authority. But, that doesn’t mean you have to be an expert.
When a situation arises in which you don’t have the answer, find someone who does. You can turn your lack of knowledge into a collaboration effort. Reach out to an expert on a topic you’re researching. Collaboration, especially with an influential person, boosts your credibility, which leads to trust. It’s a faster path for people to know, like and trust you.
When you do look to others for help, be sure to credit your sources. It’s okay not to know everything; it’s not okay to act like you do.
5. Don’t miss out relationship building by forgetting to market your blog.
➡️ Instead: have a strategy to promote your blog content!
It is not overly self-promotional to market your blog content. If you don’t market your content, you’re missing out on attracting fans, helping others learn, and converting leads.
In fact, according to SEO SiteCheckup, people are more likely to purchase from businesses that produce quality content; furthermore, unique content is a reason that people follow brands on social media platforms. Marketing your blog, therefore, makes sense both for you and your fans.
From a relationship building perspective, a blog makes a brand more visible. Quality blog content builds authority, familiarity and influence for you and your brand. Readers of your blog will come to trust and rely on you for advice and guidance. Through promoting your content and giving readers a platform to comment, your blog is a terrific way for fans to interact with you and vice versa.
6. Don’t be overly quiet and disappear for weeks.
➡️ Instead: be responsive and proactive.
Reach out to people, and when they reach out to you, respond. There are no one-way conversations in a relationship. Forming connections that lead to business growth require responsiveness and communication.
Don’t be concerned about over-thanking on social media. Rather, use someone’s show of support as an opportunity to reach out and start a conversation. For example, if someone retweets or shares a blog I’ve authored, I sometimes reply with a question related to the blog topic (and a thank you!).
Responsiveness often leads to reliability and trust.
We can monitor social media to find out who is talking about us and what they’re saying, which means we can engage in these conversations. Consider this as another way to be proactively responsive: solve a problem, answer a question, or weigh-in on a debated topic. But be careful: don’t come across as rude or intrusive.
Because much of business relies upon relationships, don’t underestimate your online interactions on social media. As Entrepreneur Magazine points out, loyal customers are your best salespeople.
The next time you think about ways to promote your brand, don’t forget to include building relationships on social media. You never know when the next interaction will result in a purchase or a life-long fan.