You would be shocked to know how many brands operating on social media are wholly squandering their opportunities. Part of the reason you may be shocked, however, is that you may blend right in with these opportunity-wasters, because you may not even realize what the opportunity is.
When you're branding via sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social networks, you can easily be seen as more than some remote business looking to sell products to people. You have a unique opportunity to engage, to build and maintain true relationships, and to be a trustworthy brand that people flock to. You also have an opportunity to handle the public relationships aspect of your business while simultaneously building these relationships.
If it sounds complicated, rest assured that it isn't. All it takes is some effort on your part to become part of the social experience and to treat people as more than just targets of your marketing.
How To Foster Real Relationships Online
1: Listen to Your Audience
When you want to handle PR social media is a great location for it, and it all starts with proactive measures like listening. Listening to what your audience is saying about you, not only on your pages but on social media in general, puts you in positive prime position to proactively make changes before any bit of negativity snowballs. It also gives you a great opportunity to find out what it is your audience truly wants and expects of you as a brand. This allows you to cater directly to the true needs of your audience. All it takes is a willingness to listen.
2: Become Part of Your Niche
It's exceedingly difficult to stay out in front of negative publicity and upswings in competition trends on social media if you're not actually participating in social media. If you're using these sites as nothing more than a billboard to broadcast on, then you're missing the true point. By becoming a real part of your niche, however, you're tapped into the social temperature in a way you simply cannot fake. So reach out and become parts of groups related to your niche. Join your competition to keep an eye on what they're doing. Build relationships with potential customers by flocking where they flock, participating where they play.
3: Truly Engage Your Followers
One of the best ways to ensure that you're building better relationships with your customers is to provide them with the material they want, not simply the material you want to give them. For instance, you may think that posting a detailed, text-based product review of your latest release will inform people. And it will. The problem, however, is that folks on social media aren't keen on reading lengthy bodies of text. A much better way would be to produce a cool, entertaining video, an infographic that explains it, or some other visual content that's much more appealing. This type of material is more likely to be Liked, commented on and shared with friends, which will boost your brand's overall reach, your impact, and help you to build relationships.
4: Return the Favor
Are you the type of driver that never lets anyone out of the parking lot ahead of you yet always expects someone in that position to let you out? If you are that sort of one-way personality, then this doesn't apply to you and you should really try something other than social media. If you're a giver on the same level as a taker, though, then you can put this to work in the social realm. When someone follow you, follow them back. If someone Likes or shares your material, find something of theirs to Like or share. Be a social media user as much as you're using it to advertise and boost your brand.
5: Add Plenty of Incentive
Let's face the facts here. Whether it was grandma or Santa, you liked people much better when they were giving you things. Yeah, it's a bit selfish, but it's also just the reality of humanity. So be very aware that people on social media will like you much more if you're adding incentive. A Draw the Best New Logo contest is something that might create buzz on social media, but a Win a Prize for Drawing the Best Logo contest will do much better. Extend this to anything you're offering and everything you do, remembering that adding that extra incentive brings your fans and followers a little closer to home.
Relationships are important on multiple levels on social media branding. Whether it's increasing the likelihood you'll show up in more News Feeds, or the fact that word-of-mouth is still one of the best methods to reach more people, it all starts with how you're viewed and engaged with via the public on social sites. Doing things to build and strengthen relationships will help with everything from PR to ROI.