If you ever needed a reason why you should jump into social media with both feet, here’s one: RELATIONSHIPS. Social media is one of the most powerful business development tools we’ve ever seen, because it provides us a platform to form, develop and scale relationships.
Mass media stripped away relationships, but social media is bringing them back. Social media is breaking a 60 year trend. For too long companies have maintained an arm’s length relationship with their customers, because they have been constrained by the limitations of broadcast communications such as TV, radio and print. These mediums favor one-way communication. A company can broadcast a message on TV, but customers can’t respond to it in real time. But social media is reversing this trend.
Seeing behind the curtain
Social media is bringing us back to a kinder, gentler time. A time when we knew who grew our food, or who made our clothes. A time when we knew the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker. Social media is helping companies to reconnect with their customers, and at the same time helping customers to reconnect with the people behind the brands.
Communicating between customers and companies isn’t all that new. Companies have been responding to letters, emails and phone calls from customers for decades. The difference today is social media is bringing these interactions into the public domain in a rather transparent way.
Rather than receiving a form letter from an anonymous customer service rep, we can see the service reps out in the open. We see their names and their pictures on Facebook and Twitter, and we can see their interactions with other customers. That exposure and those connections help us to form relationships with the people assisting us.
Dell has been very effective with this strategy. Dell is making it easy for people to comment, ask questions and share information. You can send a tweet to @DellCares with a question or comment, and get a response in short order. At the same time, you can interact directly with the Dell employees. Their employees are easy to spot on Twitter. Just look for “atDell” in the user names. Do a little search and you will find @LionelatDell, @AHayesatDell, @WarrenatDell and so on. These varied points of interaction help Dell to be very responsive, and at the same time foster stronger customer relationships.
Relationships are brand assets
The best part of relationships is they are protectable assets. When someone likes you, trusts you or finds you credible, it’s very hard to take that away.
Relationships take time. They are based on multiple experiences and exposures to your brand. The more your customers interact with your company and your employees, the stronger the relationships you can achieve.
Social media provides the vehicle to efficiently and effectively communicate with people on a one-to-one basis. This is why social media is so powerful. We are no longer constrained by the one-way communications of mass media. We can actually broadcast, listen and respond all in one place.
The level of interaction and responsiveness social media is facilitating is leading companies to reestablish relationships with their customers. And ultimately, relationships are what drives sales.