Gini Dietrich

Social Media is Relationships; It’s Not Selling

By: Gini Dietrich | December 9, 2009 | 
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Yesterday we discussed the philosophy of social media: How do you have conversations with people in order to build better relationships?

And there were a lot of great comments:

* Johnnie Firari says, “Through relationships you can now gain/earn back something that was lost: Brand loyalty!”

* Les Lent says, “The tools (in my humble opinion) are great ways to make connections and starting, developing, and maintaining relationships with clients, employees, and prospects. Make the connection, build the relationship, and the sales will follow.”

* Sherrick Murdoff says, “I would also add that you have to give (e.g. share) to get. It’s helpful to share posts you like via Twitter, share your views via comments, share your thoughts, and give your audience something to discuss. If you give them a reason to engage, you will find discussions happen and relationships are built.”

Great, great comments! And Sherrick offers some really actionable advice.

But people still don’t understand this is NOT just another way to sell your wares. The people who say “buy me, buy me, buy me” in the social channels lose credibility and, eventually, no one will care about them.

I liken social media to a networking event. I ask business leaders, “What is the first thing you do when you go to a networking event?” After the smart alecks in the room say, “Get a drink!”, we get to “We introduce ourselves to someone new.”

So then I ask, “Do you say, ‘Buy my wares!’ or do you ask questions, listen to what the other person has to say, and develop a conversation?” Of course, it’s always the latter.

Social media is not any different than a networking event. The philosophy is the same – you meet new people, you ask questions, and you listen. You decide if you’re going to be friends, if you can do business together, or if you can be a referral source for one another.

The only difference between social media and in person networking is that, with social media, you can sit behind a computer screen in your PJs and uncombed hair and no one will know the difference. You now have the opportunity to network 24/7.

Pretty powerful stuff, huh?

One thing I caution you on, though. Lots and lots of people think that it’s better to have a large number of followers, fans, and connections because they believe this is like traditional marketing – the more people they have access to, the more will hear their message.

Wrong!

If you are focused on gaining as many fans, followers, and connections as you can (you can actually pay a service to do this for you) and not on starting conversations, networking, and building relationships, you will not be successful.

You know what that’s like? It’s like the guy at the networking event who everyone hates to see coming their way and they avoid like the plague because they know they’ll be stuck there listening to this guy talk about how great he is and never ask a question about you. You know the guy, don’t you? He gets your card and he spams you constantly. You never do business with him. You’re always looking for ways to avoid him.

It doesn’t matter if you have 30 followers or 30,000. If you provide valuable content. If you start conversations. If you listen to what people are doing and saying. If you engage with people as human beings. If you build relationships. Social media will be successful for you.

People want to do business with people they like. Use the social media tools to help you become more efficient at having better relationships and you’ll achieve everything you set out to do online.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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