Five days in Las Vegas with my Internet friends always forces me into a fit of introspection about where I’m going, how fast and who with. Blog World & New Media Expo brings together a good number of my online contacts. We talk, learn, laugh and enjoy each other’s company for a few days, talk about the state of things in the social media world and sometimes even reset our focus for the upcoming year.
Perhaps it’s because I attend a fair number of conferences and can grow road weary or a bit of personal cynicism, but my thoughts this weekend kept gravitating to the superficiality of online relationships. I’m friends with these people, but I don’t know them well. Nor do they know me. There are exceptions, of course, but the absence of depth to the friendships leads me to question their inherent value.
Apply the same thinking to online networks for your business. Are 10,000 Facebook fans or Twitter followers really all that meaningful to your brand? They are if those 10,000 people invest their time and money in your product or service. If they just click “Become a Fan” or “Follow” just to get a coupon or participate in a promotion, then their interest wanes, was your time and effort really worth it?
With consumer audiences we tend to spend a lot of time and energy worried about acquisition. In the business-to-business (B2B) space, there is more focus on retention because each customer generally spends a lot more money to be such. Sure, you want to acquire new business there too, but it’s probably more important to keep your customers than just go get more.
Social media success lies in relationships. Not just the building, but maintaining as well. Perhaps your initial efforts there should be to connect and empower your loyal customers rather than chasing new ones. Perhaps your personal focus should be upon those closest to you and not the fleeting acquaintances found in the online world.
This isn’t to say that potential customers (or friends) aren’t important. Only that we shouldn’t under-serve our current ones at their expense.
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