When used in the right way, social media can be a powerful relationship marketing tool, rather than just another advertising technique that lacks authenticity and long-term time horizon.
A partner I know in a law firm recently said that he had decided to use social media, and that the firm’s social media consultant had advised him to use LinkedIn and Facebook, and that he was too old for Twitter. I disagree that social media is all about your attitude and not about your age – but it did make me laugh!
Relationship MarketingProfessor Mark Granovetter of Stanford University in the United States wrote a famous research paper called the ‘Strength of Weak Ties.’ In it he described relationships as ties, and said that strong ties tended to be homogeneous, because like attracts like, and so they were described as bonding relationships. Weak ties by comparison tended to be heterogeneous, with people unlike us, and so they were described as bridging relationships. Granovetter argued that the strength of the weak ties is that they give us access to new knowledge, ideas and resources.
Granovetter’s research was published decades before the invention of the World Wide Web. Interestingly, the most powerful way of creating and maintaining weak ties and access to new knowledge, ideas and resources in relationship marketing, is through social media. It enables us to sustain a large number of often acquaintances or weak relationships.
Recently I connected to a professional services leader through Twitter. It started with a follow, a retweet, then a reciprocated follow and a series of direct messages. The social media exchanges led to a face-to-face meeting, the start of a genuine relationship, and me being commissioned to undertake a series of assignments for the client.
The single most important principle in social media when relationship marketing, is to remember that it’s about engaging and building relationship with your community of followers, and not about a unidirectional broadcast opportunity. Going onto your preferred social media platform once a day and starting or contributing to a conversation with three people, can transform your engagement. How social media is used determines whether it is a relationship marketing approach, or a mere advertising technique.
Relationship Marketing Question: What one thing could you do to build relationships, whether weak ties or strong ties, through your preferred social media platform?
Author: Matt Bird || Matt is the creator of Relationology. He is an international keynote speaker who has worked in more than 20 countries and spoken to more than 200,000 people. He is author of ‘Relationology 101 Secrets to grow your business through the power of relationships’ and a popular blogger.