What’s more important for a business? Getting the quick sale or building a relationship? In the short term, generating income is important, of course. But if you shortchange crafting a relationship with your clients, then you’ll wind up losing in the long run.
Too many companies embark on social media campaigns and focus too much on the transactional aspects of the business, rather than on the relationship itself. The term “social” is right there in the name – if you’re not engaging in a social relationship with your client, what exactly are you doing?
Social media is your opportunity to reach a massive number of people with transparency, honesty, and integrity. My outlook on relationships in business was altered dramatically by a truly honorable representative of my college alma mater, Oral Roberts University, who established a long-term relationship with my wife Fran and me.
A few years after we graduated, director of donor relations Dawn Ward reached out to us, and I regretfully – and quickly – informed her that we weren’t able to support the university financially at that time. We were heavily invested in getting our new business off the ground. But Dawn responded that she wasn’t looking for donations; she was simply looking to build a relationship.
She had heard about our fledgling business and thought it was an interesting venture. I found it quite refreshing that she still wanted to meet with us – I incorrectly assumed that alumni officials cared only about getting donations. So Fran and I met Dawn for dinner in New York, where we lived at the time. That first meeting completely changed our minds about the nature of business and relationships. Dawn’s genuineness and integrity really made an impact on Fran and me, and it has truly shaped the way we conduct business to this day.
Dawn’s dedication to relationship-building blossomed into a mutually beneficial professional and personal relationship between us. When all the hard work we put into our business started to pay off, we actually had the opportunity to make a donation to Dawn and the university, supporting a new building project.
For any brand marketing – whether it’s for Coca-Cola, Nike or widgets – the model should stay the same. The relationship comes first, and the business comes later. It will come.
You always need to tell the story correctly, and get creative in the process. How do you do that? Get into the persona of the brand, figure out what makes them tick. Don’t tell the story from your own narrow-minded perspective; dive around in their brand. Ask plenty of questions – don’t spend too much time talking about yourself.
Here at Media Connect Partners and BrandStar, we are transparently accountable to all our clients; whether a campaign succeeds or fails, the evidence is clearly visible for the entire world to see. We try to adhere to the “70-30 rule” with the social media campaigns we undertake: we craft inspirational and engaging content – engaging with the client’s audience – at least 70% of the time, and limit promotional posts – talking about ourselves (the client) – to 30% of the time. People can usually decipher whether they’re being sold or they’re being genuinely engaged.
Recently, we worked with a client who wanted to stray from the 70-30 rule and focus more posts on selling than on engaging with their audience. Our research contradicted this approach, but they insisted. After a very short time, our analytics showed that their strategy of targeting more posts at selling than engaging wasn’t working. Engagement went down across the board, so we reverted back to the tried-and-true 70-30 rule, with increased success.
In our industry, just starting a conversation is generally a more effective tool than delivering a slick sales pitch.
Brian Boyd is Chief Social Officer for BrandStar and the CEO and Co-Founder of Media Connect Partners.