5 Steps To Building A Social Media Relationship

Social media is about starting and creating relationships. Building these relationships through mutual benefit it imperative to your success. You must ensure you are giving more than you are getting, that is the key.

Since starting to use social media for business, I have done some very specific things that make building digital relationships effective. Since our business solely uses social media marketing as our advertising medium, we place significant emphasis on mutually beneficial relationships in everything we do in the social graph.

My efforts at building relationships within social media are no longer conscious or something I really think about. After doing this for so long with a fairly large community we have built, it is now much more subconscious than purposefully or intently driven. Over time, the change in thinking becomes natural and you just do it effectively.

Rather than focus on some scientific details on relationships or making this post too complicated, I have put together actionable items that you can do to forge powerful relationships within your social media marketing efforts. All of these points should follow identifying the proper people that you should spend the time and effort toward. Be sure they are a target prospect for what you do, and that you can also bring value to them and what they do.

Here are some of the things I do to build social media relationships:

1) Provide value – In general you need to be selfless. Share content that is valuable and relevant to your audience. Offer assistance and help where you can. These things position you toward others as someone they just naturally want to get to know.

2) Follow/Friend/Like – Seems like a duh, doesn’t it? You would be surprised how often people intentionally do not follow back, accept friend requests or Like others pages. As yourself, would your friend do that to you? Of course not. Remember the old saying; “If you want a friend, be one”?  Do it…

3) RT/Comment – Commenting on others posts, finding things they post that are valuable and share them or even a simple Like goes a long way. We all want to be validated and made to feel important or that something we did, wrote or shared is good. I have found there is no better way to show someone in social media that they are valuable than to do these things.

4) Read Bio’s – Early on the process you need to know who you are talking to, what they are about, where they live and what interests them. You do this by taking the time to read their Bio’s. You can’t build a relationship if you are not interested in the other person. By learning more about them, you get to know them and can converse with them in ways that are far more personal.

5) Get to know others – The previous four steps are designed to help you to get to know the other person. Doing these steps repeatedly with the same person results in knowing them, them knowing you, resulting in ever deeper and more frequent conversations and discussion. At that point you are in fact establishing a relationship.

All of these various components need to be utilized across the social graph. Whether Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or any other platform. Often times you will use all of the above with a single relationship. I do this frequently!

The question is now what? What do you do from here?  Well this is where it gets more difficult to define. Not only is every relationship and company different, but there are just too many details and circumstances to be able to give a focused answer. I will say this though… We know that people hang around people like them. People relate to people like them. And, wait for it… People DO BUSINESS with people they feel they know and like. In short – Relationships lead to business opportunities. If your focus is on others and being a valuable relationship TO them, you can usually see a return on that investment.

As your social community increases in size, you will start this process more and more frequently, all while maintaining existing relationships you have already built. The total number of these relationships will vary from person and company, but as an example, I consistently do this with about 3500 people. These are no longer prospects or nameless faces, but friends whom I know their kids names, where they live, etc. etc, mostly by memory.

Now don’t freak out, it will happen naturally and you won’t even realize. Work on one or two and perfect it. You can’t have 300 social media relationships until you have the other 299. Focus on one at a time and it will get easier and more effective as your consciously do these important steps.

Now, go be valuable to others!!


34 thoughts on “5 Steps To Building A Social Media Relationship

      1. ok, fair enough.. :)

        seriously though, to me it just seems like the never ending chasing-the-customers-tail-trying-to-make-them-think-i-dont-just-want-to-sell-them-stuff that has been going on in marketing and sales for ages, and now moving to social media..

        frankly, i’m not sure its a good investment, but its just my not very expert opinion.

        but, what do we do when friendly people call us up and say something like “hi, how are you doing i’m calling from [company name], do you have a moment?” ?

        well, i can’t say what you do, but i hang up.

      2. LOL you totally lost me here Kim. If you are going to invest in sales efforts, networking events and other marketing activities, why not use social media and do it 1000 x’s faster, more efficiently and effective.

        I would never try to split an atom without first learning the safe and proper way to do it. No difference in this space. Social media is the only marketing medium that allows relationships to drive the marketing. We are human beings and relate to other human beings. It’s really that simple…

        Good luck!

  1. More people need to read this post and others like it to internalize the basics of building relationships on social media. For me and my business, social media has proven priceless. All (100%) of my new clients have come from my social media relationships. They have come to ME without me trying to sell anyone anything — ever. I don’t think I could sell on social media anyway. When I see tweets fly by with obvious sales pitches embedded in them, I ignore them. I like building relationships and friendships and social media provides a perfect platform for that as well as a surprising place to find new clients without even looking for them.

    1. In fact, if your business is home-based with a company, and that company is reputable, there should be a social media policy in place that doesn’t allow you to sell on social media. You can say that you have a promotion going on and to check your inbox or msg me for details, but you can’t actually post the sale. I post a link to my monthly newsletter and articles that I think my clients/fans will enjoy. I of course will post my successes, but always always thank them as I wouldn’t have the successes without them. I think the policy actually encourages relationship building virtually.

      1. I disagree. Like anything, there must be balance. There is nothing wrong with promotion, it’s the amount and type and the way you approach it that is important.

      2. I agree with Robert. In fact, I state on my Facebook fan page what my intentions are, up front. I even state it on my Facebook profile page that I’m building this, that & whatever and promoting it. To Robert’s point, balance is everything and perhaps by being blunt and up-front, I may have tipped the scale too much to the other side but that’s my style. Gosh darn it, I don’t know if people like me. :-)

    1. No doubt about that Andy. Most really don’t get it. Selfish plays in social media are easy to spot.

      Having said that, many of us are here for business and have to drive ROI. It’s the method and approach that makes the difference in the result.

      Thanx for the input man!

  2. Thanks for the tips – -really helpful; would also recommend building relationships in particular with users who form the long tail of social media users.

    ash – appguppy.com

  3. Nicely written. One of the differences I see between building online relationships versus those in the physical world where you actually get to meet them in person (I know, you can meet online friends in person if the opportunity presents itself) is that in the physical world, it is often not feasible to have thousands of acquaintances. And in the physical world, the number of true friends is often countable on one hand, or two.

    1. True David, but we are talking about business. So use your analogy related to business networking and you are there. You typically don’t count those great business relationships as those really close friends you hang with and share deep personal info with. You do however care about them and get to know them in a deeper way, resulting in a better business connection.

      Furthermore, the digital world and specifically enables you to do this all way faster and in higher quantities than you can IRL.

      Hope this helps man!

      1. Robert, what you say always helps. I resisted using “real life” since cyberspace is real but I like your IRL acronym. The speed and quantity is unmatched IRL. And if one follows social media principles and your sage advice, then quality relationships can be built.

  4. SO simple and yet so true – back to ‘why is common sense not so common’? People forget business is always about people… ‘the water cooler effect’, ‘face to face business’, ‘phone don’t email’ all that and social media makes these all easier to get to know the people and make the person to person that much more engaged. I think in social media being who you are, authentic and genuine is key but actually rather contrary to mainstream online personas encouraged by internet socialising (dating, second life, recruitment etc.) of the past…

  5. Oh, you are appealing to a Judo guy: Mutual Welfare and Benefit is the 1st principle of judo and was my first blog topic because I understand that social media (and relationships in general) flourishes under the same principle.

    I also like reading the bios/blogs to better understand the folks with whom you hope to build relationships. And every one of those points above is why I am putting a comment here…because Caruso models this behavior every day, and I honor that by contributing.

  6. Very helpful to me. Thank you so much for the great advice and tips. I realize how important it is to build trust to foster the relationship. Social media is an amazing vehicle to decipher that. If people are only trying to sales pitch me on social media, it’s not a company I would want to do business with face to face anyway. Cheers

  7. Great post….I have been writing a few similar posts.
    However, I do disagree with the auto follow back. Just because someone follows you / likes you etc…doesn’t make them your friend. I only follow back if the content they write about can add value to me and my followers in my stream. It’s nothing personal, my time is valuable and I want to focus on informative and useful content.

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