Social media may be new, but relationships still count

Social media is about relationships.

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.

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.

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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 my clients’ 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 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 guy was suggesting that his time was wasted on Linkedin. I had to agree with him because he 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. Some of the most successful bloggers use 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 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.

What do you think? How do you use social media? If you found this post useful please share it and I welcome your comments.

  1. Hi Andrew,

    Interesting post.
    Online relationships can also seem quite fake and superficial sometimes. Is it absolutely essential for a business to be active in social media to be successful?

    1. Hi Caroline, I think you make a good point. Online interaction can be fake and superficial if you share content you don’t actually like and make inane comments like “I liked your post.” Is it essential to be active in social media? Id don’t think so. However, if you do intend to use social media to market your business (as I do), it’s important to understand its real value: building relationships.

  2. Good reminder thanks Andrew. When building a relationship we ask questions of others to find out more about them. Do you advocate asking “What do you think about….” type questions?

  3. Hi Toni, thanks for your feedback. I think asking questions (open-ended) is an essential part of sales and important in social media as well so long as they’re not part of a sales pitch. You’ll notice that I always ask what readers think about the post. This is an open-ended question and encourages a conversation (like we’re having now.

  4. Well I’ll be darn Andrew! Thank you so much for that mention and you are SO right.

    I often times hear people complain that building relationships takes too much time. Really! So how is everything else working for you? I bet they’re like that person who complained about the 1200 impressions yet no responses. There is NO WAY I could have 1200 impressions with no response. And you know why that is my friend.

    We have taken the time to build those relationships so people are eager to not only reply but help you spread the word. I don’t have to share my own stuff because so many people are doing it for me. So when it comes to word of mouth, people will listen.

    Great post and I hope others will pay attention to what you’re sharing. Thanks again Andrew for that mention. It’s always greatly appreciated.


  5. Hi Andrew,
    Your article has really made me rethink my social media strategy. You are absolutely right about showing interest in other’s content. If you are being selfish and only think about yourself, you are not going to get very far in this business.

    1. Thanks for your feedback, Rahul. It’s much appreciated. As I said in the blog, etiquette on social media shouldn’t be any different to the real business world.

  6. Hi Andrew,
    Thank you for the easy to understand guide to social media. I find myself writing more and more posts on social media. It’s hard not to feel guilty about the amount of time spent there. But I feel no guilt about building good strong business relationships to support my blog. It just makes good sense. And Adrienne says it all with her 90/10 rule. I had not looked at it that way. Now I think I’m getting the point of social media.

    1. Hi Jennifer, thanks for the feedback. Yes, I must admit I sometimes feel guilty about the time I spend on social media, but I keep reminding myself that I am, in fact, marketing. It’s no different to phoning clients or writing an advertisement. I guess seeing social media as a serious marketing tool requires a bit of a paradigm shift. 🙂

  7. Hi Andrew,

    You are right on the money. Building solid business connections does take time, however it is well worth the investment.

    Most people do make the mistake of trying to “make the sale” with Social Media; It simply does not work that way. Communication is a two-way street. If folks get the idea that all you want to do is “sell” them – they will be gone in a flash.

    Who can blame them? I do not like to be “sold” either. I do however, enjoy Networking with others who are sincere in their responses, and do not mind holding a regular conversation with me.

    Who can put a price on a relationship with another human being? If they can, they have a narrow sense of the meaning of the word.

    I have to admit, I made the same mistakes myself when starting out using Social Media. I thought if I did not include my link to my Website; I was losing, when the fact of the matter is; to try and push your business first is the sure-fire way to lose when using Social Media.

    People are curious; let them do the asking about what you do. They will get around to it soon enough. This thread should open a lot of folks eyes to the true nature of how Social Media works.

    It should be no different than starting a conversation with a total stranger. Your first line to them would not be; “Hi, I am a Professional Web Copywriter, would you be interested in my business card?”

    They would probably look at you as though you were from Mars. So, what exactly would be a better “opening” line? How about a simple; “Hi, my name is _________”

    There are “no strings” to a simple introduction, and most people do not being approached (Unless you have the face of a serial killer, or you are unkempt)

    I enjoyed reading your post Andrew, and I will look forward to more.

    Very Best Regards

    1. Thanks for your reply, Stephen.

      I don’t think I can add much more to what you say, but the key thing people must know about social media is that it’s not much different to the real world – much of the same etiquette applies.

  8. The editor in me caught an error of mine. The next to the last paragraph should read:

    “There are “no strings” to a simple introduction, and most people do not mind being approached” (Unless you have the face of a serial killer, or you are unkempt)

    Very Best Regards

  9. Well there’s that phrase again Andrew!

    Building relationships! Who knew? And once again, you’re living proof.

    It really doesn’t matter, whether it’s on or offline.

    Building long term quality relationships, is without a doubt a gateway to success and eventual profitability!

    Thanks for just saying it more elegantly! But it’s basically the same proven stuff. You referenced mu coach, mentor and friend Adrienne Smith!

    She’s living proof what you’re advocating here, flat out works!Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for your feedback, Mark. Like most things in life, the basics never change – people still do business with people. Yes, Adrienne is great. She certainly knows all about relationship marketing.

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