I watch my Twitter stream flit by, messages scrolling almost faster than I can keep up. A friend of mine on Vancouver Island is having a coffee. Another in Toronto is baking with her children. Yet another writes about a book she is reading. Many of these women I have met through social media in the last two years, and they all have become what I would call friends.
Those who don’t understand social media don’t quite ‘get’ places like Twitter. “It seems so weird to have people following you, why would they do that? It’s creepy! Why would anyone want to know about my day? Who cares?” To some it’s unchartered territory, to which they are missing the point.
The point is easy, really. It’s about being social and if you are a business, it can benefit you in ways you can’t even imagine, if you do it correctly. Let me tell you a story.
Years ago, I was loyal to a particular snack product. This chocolate treat was something I had eaten since my childhood, and was practically tradition to have in the house, include in my baking, and to send to friends. I had been loyal to this product for well over 30 years. Unfortunately, the product’s recipe was changed, which changed the taste. As a consumer, I took advantage of social media and the internet to voice my displeasure to the company, hoping that I would have some response or explanation in return. I knew that they wouldn’t change the product back just for me, but that’s something that social media gives us-a vehicle to give immediate feedback. I hated the new product, and I voiced it loudly because I admit, I felt somewhat betrayed that something from my childhood was now ruined.
The company completely ignored me. However, someone else was listening.
Immediately, they responded to my tweets in the absence of a response from the company. It started with friendly chat, and somehow, they craftily let me know that they had the same product, a better product, that I may want to try, which I did. However, it doesn’t end there. The same company chatted with me occasionally, commented when I posted photos of things I had baked with their product, and got to know me as their customer. The result? Now when I think of their product, I think of the conversations I’ve had with them, the friendly chats about cookies and chocolate, and I am now far more loyal to their brand than I ever was to the original one. They took the time to get to know me, to help solve my problem, and I no longer saw them as a faceless company but instead a friendly voice willing to help.
Businesses may not realize this but when they befriend a blogger who loves their products and feels a connection to their company, we can, and we do share. It’s a tricky balance because like all relationships, the give and take must be mutual and bloggers want to be treated with respect as professionals. I will say, however that when I really love a company, and a product, I will talk about it online and off, include links in posts that I write and in general, recommend it to anyone who will listen. That kind of advertising can’t be bought; rather it’s one that comes only by the genuine relationships you build through social media. There are businesses who do this particularly well, and who I adore working with for that very reason. Social media relationships can lead to business partnerships, opportunities, and PR for companies as well as bloggers which are mutually beneficial. The trick is, I think, reaching outside of ourselves and not thinking only about what we can gain for ourselves through business relationships, but considering the people we are working with and their needs as well.
When you can nail just the right combination of business and relationships, the rewards are beyond anything you can imagine.