The challenge in building relationships online
Despite its soaring popularity, many businesses are still struggling with the notion of social media marketing in their business. They just don’t grasp how this medium can foster relationships. It’s understandable. If you’re not a large corporation like Target or Starbucks, then you’re not going to have 2,000 likes per day on your page and a million comments and “likes” on your status updates. The key to building social media relationships is patience and strategy.
The business-consumer relationship on social media sites is different from the average, in-person one. It involves more engagement, listening, and incentive. People have a million things that they can look at when they log in to a social media site. It’s your job to make sure that they choose to go to your page over any other. This involves a little bit of brainstorming and creativity. Here are the steps to building up your social business relationships over time:
Step 1: define clear goals
If you don’t have clear-cut goals in place for your social media marketing efforts, then you won’t have any direction in your tactics. Believe it or not, that comes across to your target audience when they peek at your pages. You goals should align with your business objectives. The key is to make sure that your social business goals align with your real business goals. They have to be realistic. It’s easy to get caught up in a “what’s in it for me” mentality when it comes to this, but you have to remember that social media isn’t like other forms of marketing. You may not see strong ROI right off the bat. Your goals should focus around engaging with your community, increasing brand awareness and fostering brand loyalty FIRST and dollars and cents SECOND.
Step 2: integrate your strategy
Now that you have goals in place, you have to create a strategy and implement in on a regular basis. This isn’t a touch-and-go form of marketing. It takes consistency and commitment. In order to do this efficiently, you may need to actually schedule social media efforts into your day. You’ll also have to take active steps to publicize your social media presence in order to build a following. The viral effect won’t come until you have some momentum.
Step 3: listen
As you start to see interaction and engagement from your followers, you need to listen to them. What posts are they commenting on? Are they giving important feedback about your business? Listen to what they have to say and acknowledge it publicly on the page. This will show your following that you care about their input, and they’ll likely return to the page regularly.
Step 4: engage with your following.
Don’t rely on your followers to keep the conversation going. You need to show them that you want and welcome their participation in your social media presence. Post items of value and ask for their feedback on it.
Step 5: build your presence
It’s easy to put all of your energy into just one of the many social media sites out there, but it’s important to have a well-rounded online presence. If you see one particular site is doing well, then you should focus on publicizing your other social media profiles there and get the following to transfer over.
Step 6: reward key participants
Those who are most loyal to your brand and participate often on your page should get a reward from you! Giving a small freebie to them will show them how much you appreciate their support, and they’re more inclined to recommend your brand to other people that they know. This is the first step in really growing a client relationship from social media marketing
Step 7: always analyze
Track your results on a regular basis. If you notice something isn’t working, change it. It does take time for social media to gain momentum, but it’s important to strategize and think of new ways to interact online. When you analyze your strategies on a regular basis, you open yourself up to more changes and work to keep your presence current. The more you do that, the more likely it is that you’ll keep your fans interested.
These steps for success will take time, dedication, and patience. It’s not easy, but if you stick with it, then it will become part of your daily routine and an imperative part of your marketing strategy.