How to Build Relationships and Gain Long-term Value from Social Media

If you’re a fashion brand, eCommerce site or even selling enterprise solutions, social media is one of your most important marketing channels. But, getting started is often the hardest part. To make the most of your social strategy, you first need to build and maintain high quality relationships with potential customers.

When it comes to relationships, focus on quality, not quantity. Anyone can go out and buy 1,000 Twitter followers for five dollars, but doing so will generate no value. But, getting buy-in from even one thought leader who shares out your content can generate significant interest in your brand and / or influence prospects to buy your product. Strategic relationships like this can even help to increase loyalty and retention with current customers. Sounds great, right? Sure, but how do you actually go about building these relationships? Here are 4 steps to get you started:

Follow the Right People

First, identify and follow your target audience – those who you think might be interested in your business or product. First, to find your target audience, search for specific keywords or titles and then peruse your results in Twitter’s ‘Accounts’ section.

Twitter Accounts

Next, you should dig into followers of thought leaders in your industry. For example, if you’re selling marketing automation software, you might want to look at followers of accounts like HubSpot, Marketo or Pardot. It can also be helpful to comb through the people these strategic accounts are following.

And lastly, use targeted communities like specific subreddits or LinkedIn Groups to find even more people to follow.

Screen Shot 2015-06-23 at 2.32.48 PM

Communicate and Interact

Once you’ve nailed down your audience, start interacting by favoriting, retweeting and replying to their posts on Twitter, participate in relevant group discussions on LinkedIn, answer questions on Quora or submit content to Reddit.

Using tools like TweetDeck, Mention and Google Alerts make it easy to track specific topics and stay on top of relevant keywords. Don’t forget that timing is crucial, so make sure you’ve delegated the appropriate resources to actively manage your social interactions.

Make Them Love Your Product & Brand

It’s important to maintain an engaged audience, lest you begin to lose followers. So listen to your followers’ advice and feedback using social listening tools like those offered by HubSpot. And don’t forget to thank followers publicly – when you reach a new milestone, post something special. If you’re supporting a customer over Twitter or another social channel, follow up with them directly and send them a t-shirt or another small token to show your appreciation. The more personal you can make social, the better.

Share Valuable Content

Following the right people and interacting appropriately are crucial to growing your brand, but you won’t get people to stick around unless you’re sharing valuable and meaningful content. While sharing out your own content is certainly valuable, it’s hard to generate enough content to keep the social gods happy. So, look for industry-relevant content that you know your audience will appreciate.

You can use services like Flipboard, Nuzzel, Feedly, Quibb and Daily by Buffer to discover content to share and tools like start A FIRE that allow you to promote your own content even when you’re sharing out external links.

start a FIRE

Building out a meaningful presence on social media can take time. But, if you focus on quality over quantity, you’ll gain a valuable, engaged and loyal following that will bring your business to the next level.

Photo by: Heather

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