You're Doing It Wrong!

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You're Doing It Wrong!
You're Doing It Wrong!

Marketing has changed. The way we engage with consumers has evolved. Long gone are the days of the hard sell; here to stay are deep, mutually beneficial relationships between brands and people. But cultivating and keeping those relationships, specifically in social media, can be a challenge.  Just as relationships in real life, relationships in the social space require time, effort, care ,and most important, trust. Genuine engagement cannot be manufactured; it must stem from a place of authenticity. Trust must serve as the foundation for all communication and actions between two parties.

With Valentine's Day in our rearview mirror, marketers may find themselves wondering, “What did I do wrong?” “Why don't consumers like me?” “Why didn't they return my email, or comment on my Facebook post?” Well, I'm here to help. Here's how NOT to get dumped in social media relationships:

1. Listen: Be a great listener. Be intuitive, understand your audience, and learn the norms of the community. Do your homework.

2. Know yourself: How can you have a successful relationship with someone if you don't fully know who you are? Brands must find that identity, and learn how to be (successfully) social. Figure out your wants and needs, before trying to tap into your customer's requests.

3. Get personal: Just as in real life, relationships in the social space should be personal. Simply put, treat your brand-consumer relationships as you would treat your personal ones.

4. Be a total package: Yes, you may be tall, dark, and handsome, but what else can you bring to the table? Be well-rounded. Explore additional platforms and networks to engage with your fans. Consider using Pinterest to visually showcase where you find inspiration. Or Instagram to capture and share unique views of your organization and the overall brand personality. Or Twitter to join conversations and showcase your witty (yet short) conversational skills. And LinkedIn to build those relationships on a more professional level.

5. Keep 'em happy: Once you start dating someone, you don't just begin to ignore them, do you? The same goes with fans and followers. You must work to keep them engaged and connected.  Think roses for real life and engagement for the social space.

6. Don't be selfish! It's not all about you. Successful relationships are a two-way street. Don't just talk about how great you are. Engage in dialogue, join conversations, and connect with people.

7. Don't be a bore: Bring conversation and something unique to the table. Determine your conversation and engagement strategy before jumping in. If you aren't adding value, then stop talking. A little small talk is OK, but understand that adding value to the conversation is what builds trusts and, ultimately, relationships.

8. Gifts can make all the difference: Give consumers something that shows you understand their significance and that you care. Create campaigns that generate excitement and passion around your brand. Reward your fans with exclusive content. Seek opportunities to surprise and delight them.

9. Make them feel like family: Introduce your customers to all parts of your brand. Aggregate and integrate your social conversations into your other paid and owned assets. This goes for your media, website, and in-store experiences. Don't let the conversations end in the social space. Let them live on.

10. Turn passion into action: Cultivate relationships in a way that excites your fans and spurs them into action. Being truly authentic with your consumers will create brand advocates, which will strengthen your relationship for years to come.

Therapeutic, right? Good. And remember, relationships flourish from trust. Trust comes from honesty. Honesty begins with communication. If you try and rush into the brand-consumer marriage, you may find yourself alone and halfway through a tub of chocolate ice cream (that will inevitably end up on Instagram.) Now, get yourself out there! I know you've got it in you.

Matt Whitaker is SVP, Strategy, at MEplusYOU. Find him on Twitter @mkw1342.

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