I recently blogged that Social Media is a bit like sex in high school. Want to know why? You'll need to read the post!
But it also strikes me that the process of using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter is very much like the early stages of a new romance. And there's a lot to be done before you earn the right to move to home base!
Let me explain. I recently began to follow someone on Twitter, who I considered to be well connected and interesting. They followed me back too, and so the online relationship began. But we had hardly shared two tweets before I began to receive sales pitches. First of all there was the automated Direct Message in response to my ‘follow'. It pitched in straight away with what they had to sell. This was quickly followed by tweets which urged me to look at their website. To consider their product which, of course, I would be silly not to purchase.
I have now ‘unfollowed' this person. They have lost me as a potential business contact, supporter and customer. Why? Because I firmly believe that this is not what social media is all about. It is about building an audience: engaging with them; attracting interest; sharing insights and information; gradually increasing rapport and trust. Only once this process has been followed do you earn the right to market your product.
Unfortunately, many businesses embark on social media campaigns with the sole intent of securing sales. They become impatient when these are not immediately forthcoming, giving up on their accounts, or disenfranchising their customers with the hard sell. Therefore missing out on all the amazing potential that social media has to offer their business.
So, if you are starting out in social media, don't head straight for home base. Woo your audience. And, if you do it all with care, honesty and in an engaging way……you might just get lucky!
What do you think is the best approach to maintaining your online relationships?