New Friends, Same Old Rules

September 3, 2010by hiebing2021

New Friends, Same Old Rules

When we were young, we learned some simple social skills. Be nice to others. Share your toys. Give more than you receive. Many people — now as grown business professionals — think they need to observe some magical “new rules” as the media landscape transforms from marketer-managed monologues to consumer-controlled conversations. But really, while social media may be a new vehicle for communicating, the skills we learned growing up still apply.

1. Remember personal details. We call our friends and acquaintances by their names, even nicknames. We try to remember their birthday, their kids’ names, that they like football. People like when you speak to them by name and remember something about them. So when a consumer reaches out to you, gather some basic information (name, where they live, how they connect with your brand) and work that back into the conversation when you respond.

2. Be an active listener. You know you need to listen to what your friends are saying. But are you really, actively listening? Active listening — repeating key words and phrases when you respond — shows that you’re listening and more importantly, understanding them. Online you have extra ears at your disposal — social media monitoring devices to help you listen. Review these reports to understand the vocabulary consumers use regarding your brand.

3. Shoot for quality over quantity. We can’t be friends with everybody. Neither can your brand. The difference between focusing on quality versus quantity friends is this: they listen better, they give better feedback and they know you. It’s a better, more meaningful conversation. If you have more interactions with a smaller fan base that’s interested and involved with your brand, that’s better. And more interaction produces brand advocates and friends that ultimately are on your side. They’ll be the most passionate advocates for your brand.

Ok, so brands aren’t people, but the social advice I’ve gotten over the years echoes in my ears as we struggle to figure out a more social media landscape. Focusing less on surface-level engagement and the number of friends (fans, followers) we have and more on the interactions we have with those friends will in the end earn us the relationships we seek.

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