Social Media Today just posted a piece titled “How to Create Human Relations with Your Online Community.” It states, “You can’t create a community without strong, cohesive human relations (regardless of whether these are online or offline). If you don’t have an emotional tie, forget about creating a community; people just won’t show up!”
While this is all very true, marketers should develop a slightly deeper outlook about relationships. The goal should be to create friendships rather than settling for mere “human relations.”
True friends are honest with each other.
Your everyday business acquaintances usually don’t reveal much about themselves beyond surface-level facts. They give you the “About Us” version of who they are, without telling you their hopes and dreams, their true passions in life, their fears, etc. Most brands operate this way too. But this doesn’t satisfy consumers! Customers/friends want to know the backstory about your brand, your people, and your products/services.
True friends care, and they give as much as they take.
Your vague acquaintances don’t usually concern themselves with whatever struggles you are facing in life. But your friends ask you how you are, sympathize with your struggles, celebrate your accomplishments, and are always willing to help you. And this is what really good marketing looks like. Rather than constantly selling to your audience, think of marketing as helping your friends. Create articles, blog posts, videos and infographics that entertain, provoke smiles, provide tips and lifehacks, and anything else that adds value to the relationship. And show you care by wishing your most active Facebook fans happy birthday, and by congratulating them on a wedding or a new baby.
True friends make things right.
Acquaintances and colleagues often sugar coat their shortcomings to put themselves in the best light. But true friends say “I’m sorry,” and they show that they mean it by taking steps to fix something that went wrong. When you see complaints tweeted at your brand, immediately apologize and do all things possible to rectify the problem. View negative online comments as opportunities to show the world that you care, and that you are willing to be a true friend by fixing the situation.