Social media may be new, but relationships still count
I reckon quite a few people out there don’t really get social media. Sure, they tweet, tag and post all the time, but its real power seems to fly right over their heads. And the irony of it all, is that the thing that makes this most modern of mediums so potent, has been oiling the cogs of commerce since time immemorial.
Before I became a web writer, I worked in sales and, during that time, about 80% of my energies were spent building relationships. Now, my brief wasn’t to just visit clients for a coffee and a chat. There was some of that, but what I got paid to do was add value. I did this by learning about their businesses, providing information and helping to solve their problems. Now that I’m a web writer nothing has changed.
Technology and the way we communicate may evolve exponentially, but people don’t. For this reason, the value of building relationships with your customers hasn’t diminished just because they now use Facebook or Twitter. Learning about and creating value for your customers is just as important as it ever was.
Social media is not a one-way street
I bet you know someone who loves to talk about themselves and rarely shows any interest in you. I also bet that you find them hard to be around. Why should social media be any different? I treat my social media interactions the same as I would when meeting someone for a coffee — the same rules of good manners and etiquette still apply.
Too many people use social media for a quick sale; a platform to pedal their wares without any acknowledgement of those around them. These people are missing out on a big opportunity. The real benefit that social media offers is the ability to interact, often instantly, with your customers or others in your industry.
Mistakes people make
I read a post on Facebook recently that said something along the lines of, “I’ve had 1200 impressions on my Linkedin advert but no responses.” The person was suggesting that their time was wasted on Linkedin. I had to agree with them because they appeared to have completely missed the point of what social media is all about; my opinion was only reinforced when I received no response to some (polite) advice I posted as a reply.
If you don’t read, share and comment on other people’s content you are wasting your time.
If you don’t interact with others on social media you won’t get very far. Blogger Adrienne Smith uses what she calls the 90/10 rule. This is where 10% of her time is spent promoting her own content and 90% reading, commenting and sharing the content of others.
What’s the point? Aren’t we here to promote our own businesses? Of course we are, but let me point out a simple fact of life: If you show an interest in other people, they will show an interest in you.
And there are many flow-on benefits from taking this approach:
- If you share other people’s content that is of interest to your customers, you are seen as someone who gives value, not just as a salesperson.
- You learn a lot from reading other people’s material. Not only does this improve your knowledge, but it also gives you ideas for your own content.
- By commenting and offering your perspectives, you are demonstrating your expertise.
Who should you connect with?
I don’t get hung up on connecting with just potential customers. In fact, most of my connections are with people within my industry: writers, editors, web developers and SEO experts, etc.
Connecting with these people is a great way to expand my knowledge. You see, even though my expertise is in web writing, I still need to know a fair bit about the other skills that are used alongside my own. Possibly the biggest benefit, though, is that it generates referrals. For example, web developers are often asked by their customers if they can recommend a web writer.