If you have a business, you should have a Facebook Page and a Public Twitter Account. Optionally, you can share posts on Pinterest and Google Plus as well as your LinkedIn Company Page or personal profile.
Sharing your content is good but you should also share content from your audience. We call this content curation.
No one likes a person who only shares their own stuff. It’s like a person at a party who only talks about themselves.
So, You’re Blogging — Now What?
It’s very important to not just blog but to share you blog post on your social networking sites. People aren’t magically going to know that you wrote a new post. Unless, of course, you have people already subscribing to your RSS feed or email marketing program.
What should I blog about?
You should blog about your business, your passion, and the things that make you — well, you. No one wants a hard sell. If you’re a realtor, you may also play golf. If you’re a website developer, you may also attend Trivia Nights at your pub. Regardless, talk about your business and your hobbies.
Getting leads from social media activity is always the barrier — mentally — for people to accept social media marketing as a legitimate part of their marketing tool belt.
Twitter, my favorite of the social media networks, allows you to do so much of your marketing ask: brand awareness, customer engagement, customer service, promotion, discovery and validation, and, of course, sales.
And with sales, I say this. Stop expecting first-click leads.
I say never, but it’s probably an exaggeration. Asking social media to solve your lead-generation problem is short sighted at best.
First of all, it will fail — miserably. Secondly, your focus on leads will cause you to consciously or even subconsciously make decisions out of fear and desperation. Those are almost never good decisions.
Pardon a crude example but to put it bluntly, getting leads without effort is like hiring a prostitute for sex. You may solve your immediate needs but you’ve built no relationship, have poor client expectations, and will only have favors for money. That’s not a realistic view of social media marketing or a good way to build a reputation.
If someone asks me about ROI one more time, why I’ll …
No seriously. When people ask about return from investment (ROI), I think they don’t get it. Because they don’t.
But I’ll break down relationship marketing into three main areas: affinity, discovery, and validation. These principles can be applied to nearly any social network, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll talk about Twitter.
Use hashtags like you would search in the yellow pages to be more successful on Twitter. I suggest geolocation (like #OrangeCounty) and categories like #automotive or #plumber. This allows people to find you — we call that discovery.
Validation is the process by which people check you out after discovering you. This may be an introduction at a Meetup or after they hear you present at a Chamber of Commerce.
People will search for your name and see what comes up. Have you done a search? What are the results?
When a customer discovers you, you are on the path to getting leads from social media. This is part of their journey. The journey to a lead begins with a thousand Google searches. Well, maybe five. You get the point.
How do you optimize the validation process?
You can optimize the validation process by publishing good content that matters to you and your audience.
I shouldn’t post about real estate. Why? Because I’m not a real estate professional or a mortgage broker and I don’t do social media for that industry. Real Estate isn’t bad; it’s not relevant to me.
What is relevant is social media strategy, tips, and WordPress community posts.
Where are these things published? I publish on my blog, I post on Facebook, I tweet, I write posts on Medium.com, I am a guest author for friends, I appear on podcasts and shows, I participate in my industry.
In Cincinnati, in a hotel elevator, I recognized someone I’d been following on Twitter.
Jason said, “Wow, Bridget. You know everyone.”
Right. It’s my job.
The Siren Song of Automation
Hardly a week goes by where I’m not pitched the newest, shiniest version of a social media tool or automation service. And I’ve not been shy about my feelings for the subject. The poor dead horse is being abused at this point.
That said, there are dangers of automation. Removing yourself from understanding your customers and even knowing who they are can remove that feeling of intimacy.
Intimacy just means hands-on or being close. There’s a revival in the crafts movement — people want to create with their hands. They are making their own bread, beer, and beading their own jewelry.
Even in the business world, there’s a movement to go back to working in your business instead of on it. Yes, in your business — in the craft. Being hands on.
So, why would you want to automate the most important part of your business — customer relations?
The Power of A Name
When I applied to be a Happiness Hero at Buffer, one of the prerequisites was to read the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. No doubt you’ve heard of it or read excerpts if not the whole thing.
What stands out most is the power of using someone’s name. I’ve been practicing this a lot lately. In fact, I think it was misunderstood last night with our waiter as flirtation, but there is a risk in everything.
So, one of the most important part of my social media strategies — especially on Twitter — is listing. So, you can write a script that will add people to a list depending on the keywords they use in their bio or hashtags that they tweet. You can sign up for the brand new service that promises you’ll never have to lift a finger to tweet. But you may miss out on a lot.
One of my rituals is reading bios and adding people to lists. When I’m notified that I get a new follower, I check out their profile, follow or not, and put them on a list. This is the first level of intimacy.
Oh. Okay. John Doe just followed me. He lives in Orange County and is a social media marketer. I’ll put him on my Social Media list and my Orange County list.
Whispering In Your Ear
Back in the day, I worked at a church. The pastor could never remember anyone’s name. So, I’d stand next to him and when someone approached, he’d ask me their name and I’d whisper it in his ear.
So that worked for a congregation with about 150-200 people which fits right in the Dunbar number if you believe that’s our social limitation.
But will the new fancy tool do that in person? Sure, they promise the world online, but what about when you meet said follower at a conference?
WordPress and WordCamps
For our industry, WordCamps are our trade shows. There is at least one almost every single weekend. As a marketing manager for a WordPress Plugin Development Shop, attending these conferences and knowing our customers is important.
Knowing your customers by name is important for a few reasons. Let’s start with common decency and manners. That should be enough.
Let’s not forget the power of someone’s name. Is it better to greet someone as “Hey there bro” or “Hey, friend?”
Or is it better to say,
“Hi, Paul. How was your trip on the train?”
It shows that you care. It increases loyalty. It is the beginning of a relationship. If you truly care about people and building up a culture of community, this is tantamount — required as a baseline.
Knowing your customers has never been a bad thing.
Automation Removes Intimacy
Back to the title, “Automation Removes Intimacy.” The intimacy you have with your customers on social media is important for in-person meetings. It’s important for keeping that relationship going online.
Social media is about connecting, as humans, to other people. Whether it’s for friendship or to increase the lifetime value of a customer, being social can never be automated.
Well, if Science Fiction catches up to us, perhaps you can get a protocol droid like C3PO.
Until then, be cautious when automating. You should want to spend the time getting to know your customers.
I’ve been criticized ever since my online journey began back in the days of dial-up and AOL. (True story: I attended my first Bible study online in an AOL chat room.) Why do you spend so much time online?
It’s become such a common occurrence that I try to never use my phone in person, save a couple of selfies.
Of course, I wanted to join in the fun, see old friends, and wish Bob a very happy birthday!
Though I knew I would be surrounded by my social media friends, I became nervous (would anyone greet me? etc). So, my very good friend Jen Miller said she would be my plus one and it would be fun.
You know what? It was fun.
I had great conversations with people I haven’t seen (in person) in months or even years. Yet we’ve been able to stay connected, and dare I say not superficially, online.
I engaged in personal conversations, was part of a running birthday joke, ate dinner, drank Diet Coke, cracked jokes. I felt like me.
You know why?
Because I was surrounded by friends. And they weren’t fake.
I was hugged by everyone. Because they’re real people. Real relationships. Real friends.
Why do I spend so much time online?
I spend time online because my friends are there. It’s not a chore. It’s not something I need to be unplugged from. It’s something that helps me feel connected to this world. Maybe I’m weird. But I think people value that time.
Spend time on social media creating, maintaining, and deepening relationships and you’ll always get back Human ROI.
Relationships take on many forms. We have business relationships with coworkers, employees, bosses, supervisors, vendors, and clients. We have family and spouse relationships. We have friends and people that we meet through mutual friends.
Each category of relationship has a different level of intimacy but the same basic element is required in them all: trust.
Communication in the Workplace
“In management settings, trust increases information sharing, openness, fluidity, and cooperation.” Amy J C Cuddy
It’s easy in this age of technology to take communication for granted — to presume communication. In decades past we overly relied upon in-person meetings. They were deemed a waste of time. And then we moved to conference calls, which have become a total joke. And now, we’re expected to develop relationships and collaborate on projects solely with text-based tools like Asana, BaseCamp, Trello, and Slack.
“I’m not entirely sure how we’re going to replace the schedule a call culture. Collaboration tools is probably the easiest answer, but … they have flaws too. Maybe we all just put our heads down and wait for the AI robots to take our jobs. But first, let’s discuss this schedule a call culture — albeit briefly.” Ted Bauer
My good friend John Locke and I both commented on this article that addresses both sides and I really liked this quote from his response to mine.
“I LOVE being in web development, because I get to choose who I work with, and though I have several bosses now (clients) it is night and day difference from working for THE MAN, which I did for a little over two decades.
In my current life, I’m happy to take phone calls with clients, because those are the folks I let through, and am agreeing to help. These are true partnerships with a common goal.
The “common goal” is what is missing in a lot of workplaces. Earning a living is reduced to a necessary evil, and there is constant struggle between Mangement and Employees.
We’re very lucky to be knowledge workers in the place and time that we are living in. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of broken workplaces in the digital world too #agencylife. But you and I are both very fortunate to have great bosses.” John Locke
“In a relationship, it typically takes five good interactions to make up for a single bad one.” Rick Hanson, Ph.D.
If you see warning signs early on in the relationship of unwanted behavior (badmouthing, gossip, indiscretion, inconsistent statements (lying), rudeness (especially to wait staff), irritability, tardiness, addiction, etc.), those red flags should be noted, especially if you notice a pattern.
People don’t improve their behavior as they get to know you; rather, they feel more comfortable and become more “themselves.”
Red flags are warnings to us all. We would be wise to heed them.
*I wish I didn’t feel the need to include this section; but I lived through it in workplaces for decades.
But how much communication is really verbal? This is wildly debated, but I would argue that if you only rely upon the written word you miss a lot.
“One way of increasing your accuracy is applying the 3 C’s of Nonverbal Communication: context, clusters, and congruence.” Psychology Today
In this world of text messages, email, and Slack, it’s a good time to talk about how much of communication is actually verbal — regardless of where you land on the research — there’s more to communication than the actual words.
So how do you project warmth and build relationships in a (primarily) digital age?
Trust comes from open communication. Open communication occurs when people feel safe. We like to think it’s more complicated than that. It’s not.
“You see, if the conditions are wrong,we are forced to expend our own time and energyto protect ourselves from each other,and that inherently weakens the organization.When we feel safe inside the organization,we will naturally combine our talentsand our strengths and work tirelesslyto face the dangers outsideand seize the opportunities.” Simon Sinek
How can you make people feel safe?
In their article called “Connect, Then Lead” on Harvard Business Review, authors Amy J.C. Cuddy, Matthew Kohut, and John Neffinger say:
“A growing body of research suggests that the way to influence—and to lead—is to begin with warmth. Warmth is the conduit of influence: It facilitates trust and the communication and absorption of ideas. Even a few small nonverbal signals—a nod, a smile, an open gesture—can show people that you’re pleased to be in their company and attentive to their concerns. Prioritizing warmth helps you connect immediately with those around you, demonstrating that you hear them, understand them, and can be trusted by them.”
Communication & Culture
Culture comes from how a group relates to each other. This can be good or bad. So, intentional community building is all the rage these days. Companies who are intentional with their culture protect their culture. They seem to do this in one of two ways: either they all work in-house or have regular meetings on video (Buffer, Automattic are two examples).
Regardless of your preference, company culture is definitely top-down.
When asked how a middle manager can affect company culture at a recent talk with Simon Sinek that I attended, Simon gave this advice: treat those in your realm of influence as you believe important. Meaning, do what you can where you can.
If you feel uncomfortable at your workplace, perhaps it’s time to look elsewhere.
It’s up to you.
Sometimes, believe it or not, it’s difficult to engage in conversations with people. If you want a better relationship, perhaps it’s up to you. Maybe you need to be the person who asks how they are doing, if they watched [insert sports game here] last night, or patted them on the back (verbally, with emojis, or giphys in Slack) for a job well done.