Social Media Marketing is nothing new. We’ve all been doing it for generations. Those people who use it most successfully know that it’s really nothing to do with marketing at all; it’s about relationships.
Social Media is not an objective in itself. It’s there as a tool to make the real life tangible world better, to get know people better and to make loyalties stronger
And every agony aunt knows that the key to developing rewarding, long lasting connections is listening. Remember, two ears, one mouth.
I was on the receiving end of this recently from my lovely friends at Buffer. OK, they’re not my friends, they’re thousands of miles away and wouldn’t recognise one if they ran up with a bunch of flowers. I am a customer, I give them money (what’s more, I encourage other people to give them money).
“Make a friend first and a sale second”
However they listen. They care about their customers opinions, feedback and loyalty … and not just online either.
Witness a recent exchange.
@buffer not at all. You are the platform I recommend to all of my clients. Really, you need to be sending me cake.
— Louise Dillon (@armadillosocial) February 13, 2015
Now this is lovely enough. They showed their appreciation in a timely and friendly manner, they were chatty, looked like they cared. However, they also turned it up a notch.
A week or two later, on a full Friday afternoon, I received this on my doorstep
Needless to say I was overjoyed. Noone can be uncheered by cake.
Now you can’t send gifts to every person cheeky enough to ask. However what’s the lesson here, apart from the obvious?
Your online activity should be making the real world better. Thankfully, the world of cold calling and knocking on doors is fading (much to my relief). Social media allows you to build friendships and loyalties that might begin online but will reach far beyond your keyboard.
The Key to Social Selling
1. Use social media to listen, not just talk about yourself.
It’s far too easy to use social media to promote what you do and how you do it. But like a bore at a party, you’re not going to win many friends that way. Use LinkedIn and Twitter to listen to people, find out the issues they are facing and the problems they need solving. Set up Twitter notifications so you don’t miss key tweets from important people, create a list of prospects, tag key contacts in LinkedIn or try out their Sales Navigator to do your research.
2. Take an interest, make them feel special.
Use social media to find out more about your clients and find common ground. Talk to them about their interests, passions, hobbies. People want to do business with people they feel some affinity with, not just because they need their product. Even from behind a screen, people want connection. If you’re following a particular hashtag for a TV programme, sporting event, or news item (or even #TheArchers), filter to see tweets from ‘people you follow’ and strike up conversations with people you know. Love Game of Thrones? I bet someone else does too.
3. Talk to them as you would talk to them in person
I’m always surprised when people say they don’t know how to reply or comment on social media, as if it’s another planet. However I get it. It can feel awkward to talk to someone you’ve never met, that you can’t see. However, imagine you are doing it in person. Say it out loud before you write it down to make sure it is something you would actually say if they were standing in front of you.
4. Enter the real world
It can be tempting to keep social media exactly where it but it’s a tool to help you make better actual real life relationships, not a goal in itself. Pick up the phone, hand write a letter, arrange a meeting.
Random acts of kindness can really make you stand out from the crowd. No you can’t send cake to every customer or prospect, but now and again a thoughtful gesture can go a long way. There are other brands that do this very well too. Virgin Atlantic have been known to send random gifts to twitter followers for no apparent reason. Not only do they build great loyalty, it’s great PR too.
5. Don’t frighten the horses
You need to be careful. There’s a fine line between attentive and creepy stalker. Interact with people directly, before you contact them in person. Don’t try the “I’ve been reading your LinkedIn updates from afar for some time now” approach in an email. It’s a bit weird. Likewise, be careful with friend requests on Facebook. I very rarely accept a friend request on Facebook from business contacts. I don’t want to share my holiday photos and children’s antics with them. If I did, I’d put them on Twitter for all to see. Professional interest, healthy distance is the key here.
So there you have it. How do you go the extra mile for your online contacts? Do share in the comments below.
Oh, and if in doubt, my favourite cake is coffee and walnut.