The 5 Laws of Online Relationship Marketing

If social media ROI was a Wendy’s commercial, its slogan would be “Where’s the Leads?”

Everyone wants quick results, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of beef in those buns, has there?

Social media ROI fights are nothing new. Just about everyone who either employs or is employed for social media marketing has an opinion about it.

Social MediaMarketing Sherpa reports that 72% of marketers are using social media for lead generation. On their blog, Jonathan Greene further reports that a recent study indicates there is a process a brand must go through before experiencing ROI that involves four stages of social media evolution. Researchers concluded that it takes time and social effort before you can expect to lead generation results.

So what does this all mean?

Social media is useful for building and nurturing relationships over time.

How to Leverage Your Brand through Social Media Relationships

Outsource Tasks, Not Your Voice.

I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to personally interact with your online community. Your audience wants you. They don’t want to talk to a logo or robot. Even if you outsource, you still need to get online, mingle, and be yourself. It is the most vital part of your personal brand!

However, it’s understandable that your business keeps you busy. That’s why appropriately outsourcing social media tasks makes sense for many, which may include:

  • Research and follow your target audience
  • Find interesting content to curate
  • Schedule your pre-written updates
  • Monitor your social media channels

So, what if you’re audience is growing and engaging with you, but you can’t keep up?  Look to pop culture for Brandspiration, of course…

For instance, Tina Smithers is the entertainment writer and social media strategist behind the brilliant voice of many A-list celebrity “fan base personas.” As the “unofficial source” and star insider, she engages fans and creates a positive brand experience that makes them feel connected with the celebrity.

Take Action: Dedicate a team member or community manager that interacts with your followers and answers the questions and comments that you cannot always tend to.

Relationships Require Research.

All successful marketing campaigns start-off by studying the target audience.

After you’ve determined your audience (hint: it’s probably not the people who hold the same job title as you!), stalk them. Okay, not that drastic. But do follow and observe.

Where do you find your audience? Outside of social media channels, look in forums and blogs comments. Follow links. Check out websites. Research Quora questions.

Listen to what they are talking and/or complaining about. Use this information to:

  • Pre- plan conversations
  • Curate relevant content
  • Write blog posts
  • Create engaging status updates

Take Action: Each day, find one person within your target audience and research the hell out of them!

One-Night Stands Aren’t Intimate.

That seems obvious, doesn’t it? But many people forget that if you only superficially connect with someone once, they will eventually forget you.

When someone reaches out to you, respond. Be legitimately interested and acknowledge them.

  • Answer their questions
  • Thank them for sharing your posts
  • Congratulate them on their announcements
  • Recommend them to your audience to follow (ie: #followfriday on Twitter)
  • Share their quality posts with your audience
  • Recognize their opinions and thoughts – even if they’re different than yours

And don’t end the conversation there, follow up and engage with them every few days or so.

Take Action:  As you develop brand advocates, track your conversations with a CRM and treat them like a VIP.

Story Time isn’t Just for Toddlers.

Social media ROI boils down to lead generation and closed deals. Yet, approaching a new relationship with a sales pitch, automated messages, and event invites are not just pointless and a waste of time… they’re irritating. Way to make a first impression, buddy!

You can sell by being social, but you cannot sell by being pushy, annoying, and salesy.

Instead, tell stories.

  • Did your client experience an immediate, quantifiable result from your work? Share a snippet of their testimonial and how pumped you are when helping people overcome that problem.
  • Do you have an upcoming presentation or public speech? Announce how excited you are and ask for feedback/questions on the topic to address during your presentation.
  • Do you have a new product you are launching? Share a free download or video tip with valuable information that solves a problem related to your product.

Take Action:  Brainstorm creative ideas for incorporating sales stories into your online marketing that are not blatant sales pitches or hyperbole your brand.

Log-Off for Long-Term Relationships.

Social media is an awesome marketing tool for meeting new people and passively connecting online. Introverts rejoice! And now I’m going to bust that bubble…

To create an enduring social relationship, you need to take it to the next level. That means, interact offline by meeting in person, by phone, or via Skype.

Taking this extra step makes the relationship feel more real. Hearing their voice and seeing their expression creates a camaraderie that doesn’t always transpire through typing on a keyboard.

When someone takes the time to meet with you, they are saying you are important to them. That’s when efforts start paying off.

Take Action: Each week, reach out to three online connections to set up an offline conversation.

Keep the conversation flowing… What tips do you have for building online relationships?

Kimberly Bordonaro
Kimberly Bordonaro is a brand strategist and the founder of Brandspiration, a blog that uses ridiculously fun lyrical references to explain how everyday entrepreneurs can create their distinctive brands.
Kimberly Bordonaro

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12 Comments on "The 5 Laws of Online Relationship Marketing"

Kimberly Bordonaro
October 17, 2012

Thanks, Gerry! I totally agree with you. There are too many DMs and spam messages telling us to buy, like, share, promote, and whatever else THEY want us to do to help them, and very few actual relationship building messages. That's not very social!

Gettysburg Gerry
October 15, 2012

Great post Kimberly,
The line that resonated the most for me…."When someone reaches out to you, respond. Be legitimately interested and acknowledge them." It is so important to really want to be there, it is a two way conversation. Far too many business owners think Social Media is sell, sell, sell. Wrong, Wrong, Wrong, Nicely done…

Jeff Howell
October 15, 2012

Sweet post. Love the example of the one night stand. The core component of social media is SOCIAL. That requires work at building a relationship. You can never sacrifice quality over quantity.

Kimberly Bordonaro
October 17, 2012

Thanks, Jeff!

October 14, 2012

Hi Kimberly,

Love it!

Taking the extra step by meeting in person, or on Skype, makes all the difference.

Our connections should feel real. Make the phone call. Meet in person.

Thanks for sharing Kimberly!


Kimberly Bordonaro
October 15, 2012

Hey, Ryan. I just met you and this is crazy, but here's my number… LOL! Couldn't help the lyrical reference. ;)

I have to admit, not only do I feel closer to people that I've had the opportunity to connect with offline, but when I've had that extra opportunity to learn more about them and make a cool connection, I am more likely to share their content, converse with them online, and genuinely want to help them succeed.

October 14, 2012

Good post Kimberely and as strong advocate of face2face engagment, you nailed it! Keep the relationships and all interactions genuine, it will pay when they need your product or service.

Kimberly Bordonaro
October 15, 2012

Thanks, Randy!

Totally agree. While no one expects fully altruistic intentions when using social media for business, people will gravitate to the person that is genuinely interested in them and their needs. No-one wants to hang out with someone that is the social media equivalent of a used car salesman, right?!