An Old Fashioned Barn Raising – Online

Dishing with Dana ~ Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube…

How do you nurture relationships in business and in life? You show up. You show interest. And you keep doing it over and over. Social media’s the same. It’s about investing in relationships. Trouble is, with so many social media channels it’s easy to get sucked into them all – posting, tweeting, updating, commenting, posting again. Whew!

Step back, breathe and take a break.

With the right tools on the right networks and the right resources, your business can enjoy a digital barn raising that helps build your business today and sustain it into the future.

Find your friends

digital barn-raising to build communityIf you’re new to social media, finding the conversations you need to be part of can be like searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack. You can’t see everything at once and the effort it takes to learn how to find those conversations takes an extraordinary amount of time and effort. Try these tips to hone in on your community:

  • Set up alerts – Let Google search the Internet for keywords that are relevant to your business and deliver them to your inbox. From there, you’ll start to see patterns.
  • Use Facebook and Twitter like a search engine – Search social media to see who’s talking about your products or using keywords associated with your products.
  • Gain competitive insights – Watch what your competitors are doing and how well they’re doing it. Analyze their conversations to see if there’s an opportunity for you to do it better. .

Keep in mind that every comment a customer posts is a chance to create a better connection. Ask yourself if more conversation will get you closer to your end goals? Are these conversations the seeds for future business?

Choose your networks

Every social network offers a unique twist on relationship building. Understand the dialect of each network and then learning to speak it with ease takes time – and patience.

Twitter

connect with your customersTwitter is for comments, connection and quick communication. You’re limited to 140 characters so economizing your content is the key to success.

Join in the conversation. Don’t feel hesitant about talking to someone you don’t know – it’s the perfect opportunity to show what your company can do or to ask advice.

Think of your conversations as personal, between two people, but taking place on an old fashioned party line on the phone. You know others are listening but you’re focused on the person you’re talking to.

Facebook

Facebook allows you to say more and return to conversations easily. It allows for deeper relationship building over a long period of time. Like Twitter, you can set up groups, promote events or share videos and photos – they’re just more accessible for a longer time on Facebook.

A Facebook business page allows you to connect with clients, share feedback, act as a customer service portal, make offers and share opinions. What’s more, it’s searchable by Google, unlike personal pages on Facebook. Just ensure you avoid the 7 deadly sins

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is viewed as the business social media site. You can search connections and join active groups in your industry as well as offer answers and ask for help. LinkedIn can be a powerful to make connections that could lead to sales, hiring and new vendor relationships.

Whatever you do on social media and whichever you decide to use for you and your business, be you. Understand that you are your brand and that your voice, the conversations you have and what you share helps others understand your reason for being.

Remember, it’s a brand, not a bland

The barn’s up, time to party

positioning a brand's identityImagine this scenario, if you can…You love a product so much that you’d drive across town just to be lucky enough to buy it, hold it in your hands, Skyy Vodka, for example. And as you’re paying for your purchase, you find it on Twitter. Suddenly you hear angels singing, the clouds part and a warm and welcoming ray of light shines on you. You whip out your smart phone and follow and chat and share your brand love with the Twitterverse…

But then days go by and that brand doesn’t acknowledge you or follow you back. You’re bereft and lonely. Why aren’t you good enough to follow? Why don’t they love you too? Why Skyy Vodka, why?

Sadly, brands that don’t follow haven’t figured out the difference between an audience and a community – and they’ve missed the whole point of social media.

If you’re a brand on social media and you’re not following everyone who follows you, you’re missing the point. More importantly, you’re sending a strong message to those you don’t follow: I’m important because I’m a brand and you’re not…

When things go wrong (as they always do at one time or another) those people whom you don’t follow have no way of privately asking for help. Everything they say to you is public facing. And if they’re angry, the whole world is now privy to that anger. Think of how much grief you could have saved yourself just being a little more friendly in the first place and being a follow-back brand.

I asked a few of my friends on Twitter how they feel about brands that follow (or don’t follow) them back. The discussion ranged from disappointment about not being followed back to putting brands on pedestals and not expecting them to follow back.

I personally believe that the beauty and magic of social media is the humanization of brands. It equalizes us all, removes the gatekeepers and opens up opportunities for conversations. I left high school a long time ago and have no desire to enter a popularity contest with a brand. If I’m not cool enough to be followed, I’ll go find my community somewhere else – and likely spend my money there too.

People want to hear from people. Social media works because it connects us with people we may never have had the opportunity to meet otherwise. If you’re using it as a broadcast channel, people will do what they do with commercials – turn them off.

What the emotional side means for business

brand management for your marketing strategyFor all the C-level execs out there who are shaking their heads, muttering, “I knew this wasn’t a good idea,” hold up a second. Just because something’s emotional doesn’t mean it’s bad for business. Think about it. You want your customers to become so engaged with your products and/or services that they share their brand love with friends and family. That’s emotional, right?

Being a brand representative in social media means making friends with people you might otherwise never meet. Some of those friendships will grow more personal over time. While we can and should set boundaries of what’s acceptable to share, we can’t help but dive into the day to day stuff that defines us. The friendships I’ve formed in social media are powerful and have changed me. I’m thankful for those experiences but I’ve learned that they come with responsibility.

For your community’s precious time and friendship, you (as a brand) must agree to:

  • Respect the friendship. Marketing messages are necessary in a brand’s social media strategy, but the 90/10 rule is golden.
  • Respect your position as a brand. While sharing your personality is important, some topics are definitely inappropriate. For example, it’s okay to share that the flu is going around the office and you’re passing out oranges instead of coffee today. It’s not okay to share that you’re running late for you OB/GYN appointment and will check in with everyone later.
  • Always do what you say you’re going to do. If you tell someone you’re going to call them to resolve an issue, call them. If you say you’re going to launch a contest, do it exactly as you said.
  • Remember to be friendly but don’t pry. There are some conversations a brand shouldn’t be part of (remember the OB/GYN?) unless it’s central to your business. Know your own boundaries and play within them.
  • Always be the hostess. Part of your role as a brand is too keep everyone happy and talking to each other.

Dana Helms, Community ManagerWhile social media should be part of your content marketing strategy, removing the emotion from it is short sited. Dive into the conversation and enjoy the connections you make with people and brands alike. Your digital barn raising might just be the key to your future success in business.

Connect with me on my many managed channels as you may know I love a great conversation.

About Dana

When someone says social butterfly, they’re likely referring to Dana Helms. With her ability to wander through conversations online as if she’s hosting a cocktail party, Dana brings awareness and excitement to the social media party. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

Feel free to leave a comment below or shout out to us on Facebook or Twitter – We’re always on!

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