6 Meeting and connecting

How many friend request did you get today? How many people wanted to add you to their contacts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Foursquare? Or how many people have decided to follow what you are doing through your Twitter account? It seems that everybody wants to connect. Even people you had completely forgotten about, now send you requests to be part of your life once again.

Meeting and connecting is an obvious trend if we look at what drops into our mailbox every day. However, the trend is much bigger than that. It is not just about the number counts on your favorite social network, even though most of them have started out that way. More and more it is about really making a connection and expecting others to do so as well. And the value for your organization is defined by the way in which you can meet that last criteria.

You might have heard about the value of social media for your organization. You might have heard about creating a group of loyal followers through Twitter and about gathering fans on Facebook. As if it were something magical that, through simple deployment will have people flocking your sites and desperately waiting to hear your every word. Let me burst that bubble for a moment, because that is not how it works. If you did not have your biggest fans standing outside your office waiting for your latest news, neither will they do that now.

The question then is, how does it work and how can we make the most of this trend? Meeting and connecting is about connecting on a relational level. It is no use just broadcasting how wonderful you and your products are. It is about meaningful conversation and how your fans can connect. It is looking at what they are talking about and how you can add to their conversation. It is about listening to their opinions and taking action. It is about being approachable and letting them know that you are there for them. And when you make those steps, that is when connecting really becomes connecting to them.

You might think all of this is a huge amount of work. Listening to people online, monitoring what is said about you, engaging in conversation and all that. That will cost you a lot of time and time equals money. So, the obvious would be to just skip this trend and move on to the next one. After all, just publishing news on your site, press releases and running an ad campaign should cover the exposure you are looking for. And that is where the advantage you might have had, turns into a disadvantage. Yes, having meaningful conversations with an audience will take time and money. But the results of building meaningful relationships with your target audience will deliver more than advertising ever will. It will turn a good part of your audience into ambassadors for you. They will testify to the way you have helped them achieve what they wanted. They will testify how you listened to them and solved their problems and they will tell their connections that if they ever need something similar, they should go to you.

So, what does this mean if you have a dealership and you are trying to move your cars? Basically, it means that just putting the makes, models, years and mileage on a twitter account will not get people flocking your dealership. But if you hear online that someone is looking for an MPV, a response from you might just sell that car. And responding to online questions on your brand and on general questions on car maintenance will grow your reputation as the best place to go. And you will see people answer that with a positive advice to others online to be in touch with you, to ask you questions or to check out a car that you have. And your audience will be happy to be in touch with you. Mainly because you show them that you are pleased to be in touch with them.

Show your customer you care, by connecting to them in the way you would like to be connected with. That is the least they deserve as they are the reason for your organization to be successful.

This post is part of a series on 10 social trends that can help you get your point across. For more information or a tailored advice on what could be your opportunities, get in touch on arne@arnehulstein.nl

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