The Navigator is my monthly email newsletter. You should subscribe if you haven’t already. The theme of this month’s edition of The Navigator was relationships. With Valentine’s Day coming Sunday and the topic top of mind for many of us, I wanted to share some of the ideas here to further the discussion.

Social media brought humanity back to marketing. Brands engaged in social media activity are no longer monolithic, corporate entities. They are groups of interesting, diverse and valuable people — humans — who we often want to connect with, sometimes to build a stronger connection with the company; sometimes because those individuals share a common interest. This humanity gives brands a unique opportunity to bring romance into the customer equation. The theory here is that social media and that humanity allows us to make our customers fall in love with us.

What Qualities Make A Strong Relationship?

Heart with Petals by Evgeny Korshenkov on Shutterstock.comResearching for my newsletter a few weeks ago, I did a cursory search of some blog posts and help articles about building and maintaining strong marriages and relationships. Some qualities consistently popped up as common traits. Among them:

  • Good Listening & Communications
  • Honesty
  • Trust
  • Constant Work
  • Spontaneity

Sound familiar? If you subscribe to the notion that social media marketing is best done focusing on creating lasting relationships, you can see how these traits apply. The first rule of social media activation is to listen. Honesty and trust are two requisites for a brand to be involved in the social space. You cannot launch a blog, Facebook or Twitter effort and let it sit there, unattended. Relationships take constant work. And spontaneity keeps your brand’s efforts from growing stale and predictable.

As a marketer thinking through questions, issues and problems in social media, put yourself in the mode of a participant in a relationship. It will guide your decision-making with much more care for your customers … those you wish to be your Valentine, if you will.

Marry Your Customers

Relationship expert, professor and talk show host Terri Orbuch’s book 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great outlines some great ideas that cross the personal-professional line and apply to your relationship with your customers as well. Here are her five simple steps with my reactions added:

1. Expect Less, Get More

Counterintuitive yes, but true. The most successful brands in social media engage in conversations with their customers with little more than building relationships in mind as an expectation. Then sales go up. Customer loyalties hit all-time highs. Ford reported its first annual profit in five years in 2009. Social media isn’t the only reason, but the fact Scott Monty brought smart social media thinking to Ford 18 months ago isn’t lost on me.

2. Give Incentives And Rewards

You’ve heard the saying, “Give to get,” a lot in social media circles. It’s the principle of the philosophy of free. By giving of your expertise, advice and insight through content and conversation (value/reward) and incentivizing participation and sharing, you both earn trust and grow your network of friends, fans and customers.

3. Have Daily Briefings

My first pillar of social media success is “Connectivity.” Without offering a timely and simple mechanism for your friends to reach out to you, whether through Twitter, a chat room, customer forum or other medium, you leave questions unanswered and friends left out in the cold.

4. Implement Change

Orbuch subtitled this step, “Take risks to reduce boredom and keep things fresh.” My friends at Doe-Anderson call it “surprise and delight.” Do things that keep your relationship fresh, inviting and exciting and your friends will stay connected and passionate about what you are doing.

5. Keep Costs Low, Benefits High

If it’s complicated or cumbersome for your friends to consume your content, engage with you or share what you’re doing with others, they won’t do it long. Make it easy for them (costs low) and then reward them when they follow through (benefits high) to ensure they know you’re paying attention and appreciate their friendship.

Are You Ready For The Commitment?

My guess is that many of you are or have been married or at least have entered into a committed relationship with a significant other. Remember the excitement in the beginning and how it was tempered, albeit very little since we were so enamored with the other person, with a bit of uncertainty? Your business faces a similar uncertainty with a commitment to social media marketing. You should think about it in the context of a long-term commitment. It’s something you don’t just walk away from. You need to be sure you want to focus on the other person (your customers), give of yourself knowing that you will get in return, likely in far greater ways.

Ponder on that this weekend. Enjoy your time with your Valentine, but come back to work Monday trying to earn that status with your customers.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

IMAGE: Heart with Petals by Evgeny Korshenkov on Shutterstock.com

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments & Reactions

Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://scottmonty.com scottmonty

    Thanks for keeping track of what we're doing at Ford, Jason. Just noticed that your email newsletter is called The Navigator. Sounds like we need to talk… ;-)

    • http://www.ribeeziemedia.com/blog Ricardo Bueno

      Damn! Why does Jason get all the good stuff? <sigh>

      • http://www.rosssimmonds.com/ TheCoolestCool

        Hmm…. I think its time to name my first born Mustang.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      I sure hope you mean about a sponsorship and not a lawsuit. Heh.

  • http://www.yournetbizwealthcreation.com/ YourNetBiz

    Great post, Jason. “Expect less, get more” was my personal favorite; I would also add “Give more, get more” – give your followers more value without any expectations and you will get back more.

    Ana/YourNetBiz Mentor

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Great take on it, Ana. Thanks!

  • http://anthonypiwarun.com/ Anthony Piwarun

    “Have Daily Briefings” is important in today's world of instant communication. With so many options available like Twitter, Facebook and even email you are behind in the times if you don't make your presence known. Props on the tie-in to every guy's favorite Hallmark holiday.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks, Anthony. Glad it resonated.

  • http://www.facebook.com/cbwhittemore Christine B. Whittemore

    Jason, I LOVE this post and the humanity that social media has brought back to marketing and business. Happy Valentine's Day!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks, so much, C.B. Appreciate your feedback and Tweet, too! Happy
      Valentine's Day to you as well.

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  • http://smmfox.blogspot.com/2010/02/how-virtual-world-can-help-your.html smmfox

    Nice post. There are some ways to grow your business and at the same time to connect with your customers. I have discussed it in detail in my blog.

  • Teresa_0222

    Thank you for these tips! It’s interesting how the keys to a successful marriage can be applied to business relationships. But there you go, human relationships are very similar no matter what aspect of your life they are for. I agree, too, that social media and Internet has definitely humanized and brought personal interaction back into marketing. It’s more interesting if you’re hearing about all these information and products from a familiar face rather than a mysterious, detached marketer. :-)

    P.S. Click on http://budurl.com/hw8s and find out how else building successful relationships can bring success for your business.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thank you for the thoughts and link, much appreciated.

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