Sunday, March 16, 2014

3 Notes on Being More Human and Building Your Brand in Social Media

One of the most exciting things about social media is that we are working in a period of change. We're seeing an evolution in the way people approach work, play – life in general is absorbing new methods of interaction as social media grows into our collective cognizance. We're creating a new atmosphere and expanding our reach to the wider global community. And one of the best aspects of this is we’re all learning. Unlike traditional media where everything’s been done before, the social media landscape is being crafted by experimentation. No one has all the answers on how best to use social media for business, we’re all asking questions, trying new things. Definitely, there are processes that work, and through the research of thought leaders we’re guided, everyday, to expand our knowledge, but those leaders are as keen to learn as anyone else. We are in a period where ideas and thought are of significant value. Because no knows for sure where this road takes us next.

Whilst more people are embracing creativity and experimentation, there are some things that we’ve learned that are universally true, some aspects that, regardless of the medium, will remain influential in success. Those elements are human factors. You can’t do business without people. It's people who purchase your products, people who spread your brand message. You can’t succeed in social media without understanding the importance of building and maintaining human relationships. Whilst social media is technology based, it’s people who drive it, and we don’t build relationships with avatars and user names alone. Here are three things that will help humanize your brand and build better business relationships through your social media presence.
1. People want to connect with people. They don’t want constant brand spiels and blatent advertising. People want to know they’re important, that they’re being listened to. Businesses need to keep in mind that each of those profile images is representative of a person at the other end. You need to listen as much as you can, hear what's being said, then use that feedback in your planning. This is why social media monitoring is so important, it’s your window into the consumers’ world. The more you can tap into it, the better your company will be positioned to establish a place of relevance and trust. Stats show that people expect a brand to respond to a question posed on social media within 60 minutes. That expectation is only going to increase. Social media is an opportunity for people to have a voice – you, as a business, need to hear it.
2. Gratitude and acknowledgement are critical elements in developing community. Just as in real life, saying thank you goes a long way in building relationships. You should think of social media in the context of any other relationship. If a person recommended your expertise to someone else in your neighbourhood, you’d want to thank them for the good word. Same in social media, you should always seek to acknowledge and thank people for sharing your content, for talking positively about your brand, for recommending your offerings. Small actions can go a long way – think about how good it feels when a major influencer re-tweets you or ‘Likes’ your post. It’s recognition, it’s gratitude, and you’re more likely to feel a connection with that person or brand because of it.
And here’s a further positive I’ve noticed - as a result of social media’s culture of acknowledgement, I’m now more active in sharing my gratitude with people in real life when they help me out. It’s a small thing to say ‘thank you’ to someone who’s made an effort in your service, but it can make a big difference to their day, just to know someone noticed. This is a major part of building your social media community.
3. Most brands look at social media in terms of how it can help them, not how they can help others. While this makes sense for obvious reasons, the latter approach is more conducive to success. Actively seeking out ways your business can be of benefit goes a long way towards improving your social media results. How can social media help you serve clients better, increase your capacity to meet client needs? The more you can view things from the perspective of how you can help, the better your interactions will be. As noted earlier, people want to feel important, respected, listened to. Their social media profiles are their voice - brands that are able to listen to them, make them feel that they are valued, those are the businesses that are achieving higher levels of engagement. Social media is not a broadcast platform, it’s a two-way conversation - If you want to build your brand and have your message spread through people’s social circles, word of mouth is crucial. Approaching each connection from the perspective of how you can help, in line with your brand mission, should be a guiding principle of your presence.
There are many opportunities in social media, and the parameters of how best to utilise the various platforms are constantly evolving, providing businesses the chance to think creatively about how they engage and excite their target audience. Whilst the path to conversion is not always as direct as traditional media, the path to people is clearer than ever – you now have more opportunity to listen to what people are saying about you, to get an understanding of how your company and products are perceived. These insights are of significant value. Incorporating them into your planning, and working to help improve the consumer’s world, will go a long way towards solidifying your ongoing success.

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