For those that have spent time with me in person, on the phone or via hangouts, the phrases “Providing selfless value to your audience” and “social media relationships are personal” are a few things you have no doubt heard me say hundreds of times. It’s the basis of relationship building both online in social media marketing and offline in real life as well.
Earlier this week I was the recipient of the best example of what a selfless relationship is. The experience impacted me so dramatically, I knew I had to write about it and make the connection to social media marketing for others. This story was so vivid and emotional for me, that I believe it has the ability to impact your social media marketing and relationship building efforts for a long time to come.
I have some really great neighbors. The husband and wife that live next door are wonderful people that have become friends with the kids and I. Little Johnathan has especially taken to them and their little dog Jake.
Late morning on Tuesday, they stopped by unexpectedly and I could tell there was something very wrong. They proceeded to explain that their little blind, old and sick dog that my little Jman loves so much had died earlier that morning. In fact they had to make the decision to let him go, something I experienced as a 12-year-old while my father was out-of-town on business, so empathizing with their grief came easy.
As they told me what had happened the night before and everything leading up to the ultimate decision, something changed. What was amazing to me is that though they were so grief-stricken over the loss of their “family member”, their biggest concern was my 4-year-old little boy. They knew Johnathan loved their little dog and they wanted me to know right away so that I could break the news to the little man before they saw him and he asked to play with Jake again. They even felt the need to coach me on what to say to him about Jake dying. (so touching to say the least)
Yesterday while working, I was thinking about the situation and frankly it got me pretty choked up and I decided to write a lengthy post about the situation on Facebook. Immediately following that status update, I compelled to head next door just to check on them and thank them for their selfless concern for my little boy. The husband answered the door, eyes watering as he was still clearly struggling with the loss. We talked some more and I expressed how grateful I was for their selfless act toward my son. I also asked if I may turn this situation into a blog post as a tribute to them and their little dog, resulting in the greatest example of selfless value to another. They agreed and shortly thereafter delivered a thumb drive full of pictures of little Jake for me to choose from for this post.
What’s the point?
The point is that just as in the real world, social media marketing and relationships are not about you, your brand, product or service. Social media marketing done effectively is about providing selfless relevant value to others and sincerely showing interest and concern for them as well. This is how I have tried to model my social media community and relationships. Showing sincere concern others, their needs and circumstances. I think the results we have achieved with this sincerity are fairly plain to see. (at least we hope so)
Yesterday was yet another example of how it feels when someone treats me (and one of my family members) that same way. You see, when you build real relationships that are based on real care and concern for others and not on what you will get out of it, the results become measurable in dollars and cents, but also immeasurable on a deeper human level. What I find fascinating about social media is that it is exactly the same as in the real world. We do business with people we know and like and have a relationship with at a far greater percentage than with people or brands we have never heard of. Pretty much common sense, right? You’d think so…
So I challenge you to take the time to get to know your audience, your neighbors, community and prospects. Have conversations that help you to get to Know who they are and what they’re about. They will not only flock to you and your brand if you employ this methodology, but you and your brand will become better people and organizations for doing so. (dare I say possibly the world would be a better place if we all did this)
Now, I just wish my neighbors weren’t retired, so I could do business with them. Those are the kind of people I want to spend money with. They truly cared about me, my son and how we would be impacted by their situation. What a novel idea.
Something to consider, then emulate.
Oh and about little Jman. Last night he took the news better than I expected he would. He was more interested in discussing how Jesus was playing with Jake in heaven then concerned that he lost his buddy. I suspect this will be an ongoing conversation for some time as he deals with the loss in his own little way. I thank God for the innocence of a child.
**Update 8/15/2013 6pm PDT** After picking up Johnathan from daycare this evening, we came home and had to take the thumb drive back to the neighbors and little man wanted to go with me. I gave him the drive and he ran to the front door and rang the bell as I waited on the sidewalk. They opened the door and came out on the front porch carrying something in their hands. Needless to say play and joy ensued.