This post is about relationships, and specifically how important they are within the fiber of the social web. While much of the business world continues to figure out how “social media” plays into their organization’s marketing communications strategy, I’d like to take this opportunity to remind everyone about one of the simple truths about social media and social marketing, and that is that:
Community + Relationships + Engagement = “Social Media Integration”
This is the culmination of social media in its purest form. All of the tools in the world, are just that, they are tools. As I mentioned during my talk at Social Fresh, social media is not about twitter, or LinkedIn or facebook, or whatever tool you are using to connect with your base. Its about real people, & real relationships.
I am both honored and humbled to be highlighted in Chris Brogan and Julien Smith’s new book “Trust Agents.” (Which by the way if you haven’t heard is officially on the New York Time’s Bestseller list. Congrats guys!). One of the themes that I am highlighted within is the notion of “being there before the sale.” Chris came up with this slogan a long time ago, and it couldn’t be any more right on.
So, in the end what does “being there before the sale” mean? It means building true, genuine, relationships, the kind that are built over time, not over night, and never having the sale in mind. It means being human, building relations, and discovering and understanding that leads /sales / business development, are simply a by-product of participation within your community.
When you think about it, a referral from your network is one of the greatest compliments you can ever receive in business. However, in order to receive that referral one must feel as if they can trust you, your company and your brand. That is done by what Chris and Julien refer to as “building army’s.” You can call them army’s of influence and trust. Building a GENUINE army of advocates & evangelists for your product, service or brand, is something that there is no shortcut for. This process takes time, effort, and lots of resources. Remember, the tools are only that, they are tools….
At the end of the day this is a PEOPLE thing. Not a social media thing.
To me, one of the key factors in manifesting the true gem of social media is incorporating the simple concept of face to face. This is where the game changes, when you bridge the digital world into the physical world. Its been said many times before, by those of us who have experienced this. The tools have simply allowed us to connect, generate dialog and engagement with our base, in more ways than ever before, but still in the end nothing digital can replace or duplicate true face to face interaction.
Real World = Real Relationships
The importance of meeting people face to face is what “social media” and “social marketing” continue to reinforce to me, and its one of the messages that I try to tell marketers every chance I get. It’s also why you see my company, Blue Sky Factory at events all over the country, sponsoring, speaking, exhibiting, etc.. sure we are there for the branding and promotion, etc but more importantly we want to connect with YOU. It’s about the hallway and booth conversations, sharing a coffee or a beer, maybe even a meal, and being able to talk about non-business related topics… and just being human. The importance of face to face is just another an old truth being reinforced through new mediums…..pretty interesting when you think about it.
The takeaway here is that though I do believe companies should utilize the social web to build community, establish relationships and engage with them, more importantly they should continue to invest in any activities that get them face to face with their base. I think everyone reading this post will agree that there is a distinct difference between the pure online / digital relationships that we have and the ones where we have met face to face. The difference being that the relationships we have with people we have actually met in person, and spent some time with tend to be stronger all around. Companies need to build their armies around these types of relationships, and as I mention in the title of this post, there are no shortcuts. Get out there and meet and build your community, face to face.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks for reading.