Despite Michael Corleone’s assertion that “It’s not personal, Sonny. It’s strictly business,” every aspect of business is personal. When people know about you, like you, and trust you, your business thrives. When they don’t, business suffers. Building a successful business is all about building trust, connections, and rapport with your customers and prospects. And without a strong relationship – even if customers are satisfied with your product or service – they may not continue to patronize you.
With the emergence of social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and Yelp there are a plethora of vehicles for establishing and maintaining meaningful connections with your customers, but remember that what you say and how you say it is what really matters. It’s not about which social media platform you’re on—those are just ‘dumb’ channels on which to post your content. Indeed, the message is the most vital aspect of any online interaction.
Getting Real: Meaningful Online Business Relationships
Channels like Facebook allow friends and family to have meaningful digital interactions, and with online dating services like Match.com, people can even form new relationships with prospective spouses. Review sites like Yelp let consumers find out more about the quality of food and service at a local restaurant or whether a hotel lives up to its website’s promises. Loosely defined, social media extends our ability to make (in some case, quite literally) an online love connection. So, when communicating digitally with customers and prospects, businesses must be sure that the messages are not mechanized, canned or impersonal. The things that annoy people in a face-to-face meeting (hard sell, boastful, shallow or trivial) are also turn-offs online. If it’s real, it won’t sound like a pitch—because it isn’t.
Social Media Turn-Offs
Here’s what NOT to put on your online channels:
- Messages that are obviously put out there for some self-serving purpose – It is very annoying to land on a keyword stuffed web page that’s only designed to improve the company’s Google rankings. That kind of content offers no real information and makes little sense to the reader. It will turn off rather than turn on prospects.
- Generic, canned, boring content that could be found anywhere else – Think of the dentist or car repair shop that uses stock photos and content filled with commonplace facts but provides no relevant information about their particular enterprise. Seeing this kind of web page or blog post won’t help the customer decide whether to patronize the business.
- Content that wastes readers’ time because it doesn’t give them what they are seeking – People are busy and want to quickly find the answers to their questions or access materials that meet their needs. It is quite annoying to find out that the content doesn’t deliver what it promises.
- Messages that are boisterous and self-promoting and NOT about what’s important to the prospect –Why your company wants someone to buy is not the same as answering the questions a prospective client has about a product. Make sure your content is about your client’s needs, not yours.
- Content that makes claims that are clearly untrue or outlandish – Your goal is to build trust, so overblown claims will simply drive customers away.
Effective Social Media Messaging
Prospects become customers when:
- Messages strike an emotional chord and make the reader feel something – joy, surprise, even fear or worry – connects them emotionally with what makes you and your business unique. By revealing the source of your inspiration, you establish a genuine connection. Shared experiences, circumstances, or points of view will help your customers feel a personal kinship with your business.
- Content exposes your vulnerabilities a little – Real people aren’t perfect and you want your prospects to realize that, like them, you are human. Just like your customers, you have needs, quirks, and make mistakes.
- Messages show who you are – Help your prospects relate to you, and give them the opportunity to assess their compatibility with you. That empowers them and saves everyone a lot of time and expense by ensuring a better match between you and the prospect.
- Quality content makes them happy they read it – It is hard to set priorities in our busy world, so if the message doesn’t enrich prospect’s lives by being helpful, entertaining, or educational, they will resent that you have wasted their precious time.
Use Social Media to Convert Prospects into Advocates
Do you have customer evangelists like the ones have attracted? They don’t come along every day and those relationships must be nurtured. Converting prospects into customers, then loyalists, and then advocates happens when real relationships are created along the way. Used well, social media messaging can help. But be sure that your content is authentic, relevant, and engaging. And If you have questions about content marketing or social media, let us know!
Photo courtesy of Thomas Leuthard