Let me start by saying I looked at my computer screen for at least a good hour trying to find away to start this post. I would turn on Hulu and watch some of The Riches. Then tell myself to turn it off. Then I would turn on Howard Stern on my XM Radio. I would then turn that off and try to focus again. Then it hit me. It was easy to talk about brands trying to have relationships with people via social networking. It happens all the time, you just may not know it is happening. Look, Hulu just got me to mention it in this post. XM Radio did not even have to try. I’m plugging brands because I have a relationship with them. I follow both Hulu and XM on social networking sites. Why? Well lets first look at what the question really is.
The real question is “How can brands use social media to increase their brands relationship with people?” (how is that for a mouth full? Let me share some ways brands can accomplish this. I will do it in list form, as people like lists…
-Be Human. Pull the corporate veil away. You want to have a relationship with your customers right? Then act like a real person. Make comments. Engage. Have discussions. What you are doing here is building up trust. If your brand did something wrong, admit it. If your brand did something right, take credit for it.
-Talk often. Post, update, tweet, share, engage, chat, etc, etc do it often. Now I do not mean ever hour. Just often and as it seems appropriate. If you post to much it can be annoying. It is just like that old high school classmate you do not really remember. You know the one who makes comments on ever Facebook Status update you do. Yes, that guy. We do not like him and hide him on Facebook. That guy bugs.
-What is in it for me? This is a question I always ask my clients. They all want thousands of “Fans” on their Facebook page. Great. That is a great move and goal. Yet, why should these people join? What is in it for them? You need to give them early access to content or sales. Let them test things in beta maybe. Access to early tickets. Inside information. It needs to be something can not get if they don’t follow you, fan you, join you..heck even Plurk you.
-Pay Attention AKA Listening. This is just like the first item about being human. There is a wealth of feedback out there from people. Look at what people are posting. Review what people are saying and comment back. It drives me nuts when brands have a social media presence but do not comment back. I am talking to you my local fox affiliate KTVU. All you do is post at me. Your not responding to any comments I have made.
-Have an Evangelist/Community Manager. You have taking them time to setup these accounts on these social networking sites. Who is going to manage it? You need to have someone be responsible for it and represent your brand. Yep, there needs to be a human there responsible for this relationship. Scott Monty handles Ford. Phil handles Domminos. There is Richard for Dell.. you need someone for your brand.
-Do not post at people. What I mean by this is dont just share your content and talk about yourself. Again, I am talking to you KTVU. Why would I follow you? Your don’t do any of the above nor, do you give me anything that I cant find on your website. Do not hate me.. I am just trying to help.
Bonus: A Real Life Example
Jessica from Cirque Du Soleil knows that Blogworld will be happening next month in Las Vegas. She has reached out to bloggers and is offering free tickets to shows. Look at that Cirque Du Soleil is: Being Human, Listening, has an Evangelist, Paid Attention, talks back and talks often. What does Cirque Du Soleil get? Well I’m talking about their brand now. I have linked back to them and Ill be posting about the show prior, during and after.