It’s safe to say that people engage in relationships with people they resonate with or have a good feeling about. For those who have relationships with people that don’t make them feel good or that they don’t like is another topic in itself; but self-worth and gaining something from the relationship are two thoughts that come to mind.
As for fulfilling relationships, it’s not that people look for people with their same opinion, even though maybe some do, it’s more about feeling understood and that the person or people you spend your time with can relate to you, and each enjoys the other’s company. The same idea goes for building relationships with brands on social media.
People like to do business with people, not businesses. The reason people keep coming back to do business with companies is based on how the company makes them feel, how they are treated as a customer, and of course yes, the need for the product and/or service the company is offering. There are some exceptions to the rule, but they are few and far, and usually there’s more to these brands than just a product or service (Simon Sinek’s TED talk, Start With Why, points to what this ‘more’ is).
I don’t want to get into the technical intricacies of marketing, business and social media strategy; rather, this post aims to share what I’ve noticed and experienced throughout the years as an online marketing professional between genuine and authentic relationship building versus the opposite.
PS I’d love to hear what your experience has been and what you think; so please, please do leave a comment (when you have a minute :)).
What I’ve encountered is a lot of unauthentic relationship building efforts by marketers and businesses alike (even though usually, it’s the marketers who are handling the social channels, but the business also agrees or disagrees to what is happening so the two are making the decisions).
It’s not that marketers and businesses don’t care about building relationships with consumers and their online community, but the intent behind the action is basically, sales and consumption of their product or service, or even ego is in there sometimes, becoming the next rock star. Of course, a business needs money to stay in business and professionals need to grow their reputation and status to build trust; we all get it. And yes, these businesses and professionals are also offering value, they are helping to fill a gap, a need; which is great. However, the fact that these brands claim loudly how much they cherish building relationships, but then through their efforts it becomes very clear that their main objective is something else hits a nerve. I’m looking for your thoughts because sometimes I wonder who else is picking up on this (or is it just me because I’m in the industry).
The need to grow a business or a name isn’t something I don’t understand, but I’m a firm believer that if you create something to help and assist others then you will thrive. If you care about the people you’re trying to help, you don’t need to sell to them because your product and/or service was catered specifically for them and their needs. Caring, for real, about connecting with your customers, not as consumers, but as people you want to relate to, you want to have conversations with, you want to continue helping, you want to get to know; having those components in your social media strategy, and not metrics on how many clicks or followers or sales you’ve made, are genuine intent in building relationships.
If a business is that good at what they’re offering, they can’t fail because the market has a need for them. It’s that simple! So, when I see an industry “leader” or brand claiming to care about building relationships, but doing the opposite; it totally turns me away from them.
A perfect example thanks to the personalized aspect of the social app is Snapchat; where there are a great number of brands and professionals snapping away without any interest whatsoever in consuming other people’s content, but rather just creating their own content and adding people (or not adding them), just so that they can be seen and heard.
It feels as if they actually think they can fool me and others; but more than that, it makes me know they don’t care about me. With this being the case, I will want to engage with them when I need their product or service, but not to build a relationship. Furthermore, if another brand or professional offered the same product or service they are offering, but with the added bonus of genuinely caring about building a relationship with me, you bet I won’t think twice about switching to that brand or professional as my go to person or company for the product or service I need.
For me, genuinely caring is what will lead to success. It leads to loyalty and affection for a brand, it leads to feeling like your opinion matters, it leads to feeling like you can count on the business or professional in moments of need, it leads to a life-long relationship; which in turn leads to business growth. It shouldn’t be about numbers, it should be about people, after all, that’s who businesses are servicing.
There are plenty of businesses with this mindset as well, just doesn’t seem as many as the opposite sometimes. Not to mention the fact that the biggest differentiator between traditional and online marketing is the two-way conversation (the pull, not push component). Maybe it’s just too hard for brands and marketers to move away from the traditional way of doing things or maybe they just don’t care. As consumers become more and more empowered in the decision making process of what they buy, businesses will have to rethink their ways or perish. Even for those customers who may complain a lot, good for them; good that they can voice that and possibly get brands to act upon it and improve their offering, as well as customer relationship behavior.
Looking forward to your experience and thoughts on the topic!