Social media is called social media for a reason… because it requires engagement on your part and those you follow or interact with on your social media accounts. Similar to a potluck style party, social media is a place where people can collaborate to something bigger than themselves by bringing something unique and different to the table.
I like to use the “potluck party” comparison because you should treat the people you interact with on social media the way you would treat a new friend you met at a party. For example, if you are a normal, respectable human being the last thing you would do is go up to a new friend you just met and tell them about how great you are without asking them any questions about themselves. Although we have all met people who choose to go that route, they usually aren’t people we want to be friends with once the party is over. The same thing applies to social media: show your followers and your connections that you care, and you could build some life-long rewarding relationships through cyberspace.
In this post, I have provided a short list of how you can put the “social” in social media and some examples of people and companies who are doing social media RIGHT. Here are my 4 tips to get you started:
- “Show people you genuinely care, and you can make life-long relationships.”
Although this tip seems like a no-brainer, it is something that took me years to truly understand. When I was fourteen years old, my mom and I planned an extravagant birthday party, and I bought party hats for 20 people hoping it would be a great day. To my dismay, only three people showed up. I remember crying to my mom in her bathroom, complaining that I didn’t have any friends and that no one cared it was my birthday. It was in that moment that my mom gave me some of the best advice I’ve ever been given, which was: “people care about us AFTER we show them that we care about them first. Don’t expect people to be a best friend to you if you aren’t a friend to them first.”
All the people I had invited to my birthday party invited me to theirs, but I didn’t show up. I EXPECTED people to do something for me when I hadn’t done anything to show them that I truly appreciated their friendship and wanted them to be my friend. The same thing applies to social media. The true CORE of social media is based on building relationships and becoming interested in other people and what they have to bring to the table. One of the questions I get asked most often is; “how can I get more followers on Twitter?” The answer is simple.
Show a genuine interest in other people and they will want to show a genuine interest in you. Because, let’s be honest, most of us aren’t Kim Kardashian, with our own television show on “E!” We’re just normal people. If you want to build GREAT relationships on Twitter or your other social media accounts, you have to be willing to put yourself out there. If there’s someone on Twitter you admire, tweet them a compliment about their last post or share their blog posts.
Someone I had a “friend-crush” on for a while was social media rockstar Jenni Hogan (@JenniHogan). I remember seeing her on T.V. and noticing her positive energy –only to find out she was doing amazing things with social media, as well. I followed her on Twitter, and to my surprise, she followed me back. It took me weeks, but I finally got up the courage to send her a message on Facebook telling her how much I admired all of the great things she was doing on social media and in the greater Seattle area. She sent me a friend request, and the rest was history. We’ve been cyber friends ever since.
- “Even after you’ve made it big on social media and have LOTS of followers, you still have to contribute.”
This tip is CRUCIAL to anyone looking to build quality relationships on social media — from social media newbies to celebs with millions of followers. If you want people to respect you and you want to build a broader network, you must participate and continue to show people you care. Big companies sometimes lose valuable customers because they don’t join the conversation on social media, thinking that people want to see promotional posts 24/7. R
ecently I asked my followers what makes them unfollow someone on Twitter, and with no surprise, most of their responses followed a similar pattern. Most of them DISLIKE promotional posts and frequent retweets. Why? Because they followed you to get to know YOU, not your product, and not the things you like to retweet. A company who contributes well on social media and is one of my personal favorite places to shop, is Nordstrom. To be honest, I would probably still shop at Nordstrom even if they didn’t have a Twitter account because I can’t remember a time when I have received bad customer service. Recently, however, something that has impressed me the MOST about their company is how they interact with their customers on social media. If you browse their Twitter feed, hardly any of their posts are promotional. On several occasions, I have tweeted them and gotten immediate feedback.
Nordstrom also does something unique in that they follow what is being said about their brand on social media and respond not only to positive comments, but to negative comments as well. In a recent interaction with Nordstrom, a customer expressed their dissatisfaction with the service they received recently at one of their stores. Instead of ignoring the comment completely (which is something most big companies and celebrities on twitter do), they responded politely offering to amend what happened to that customer in the best way that they could. This not only shows good customer service, but that they recognize that their customers are PEOPLE and they still deserve respect. Showing respect to the people who interact with you on social media increases the longevity of the relationships you form. Will that customer return to Nordstrom? It’s tough to say, but even if they don’t, they will walk away from the experience knowing that they were treated as a human being, not anther sale.
- “Be positive, be interesting, or be invisible.”
I’ll admit, there have been times I’ve whined or complained to my friends about something that now seems trivial in hindsight. Looking back on those moments I realized that the only reason I was complaining was because I was seeking sympathy from other people. I wanted my friends to agree that my professor graded me unfairly or that the woman who cut me in line at the grocery store was rude, but just like a bad meal from McDonalds that tastes good in the moment and I later regret, I felt the same way about my complaints.
When we complain or are pessimistic on social media, it is something that feels good in the moment but adds no value to the people who read our posts. We’ve all had a friend who has drained our energy because nothing seems to make them happy — the same rule applies to social media. Create your own sunshine, and be enthusiastic about what you post, and people will gravitate towards you. From personal experience, some of my favorite tweets I get from people are the tweets that say I’ve made someone’s day or my Twitter feed makes them happy. Good relationships are formed when both people add VALUE to the people they interact with.
Retweet the quotes or articles you enjoy — be yourself and be human. People followed you or friended you to see what YOU have to say and to build a relationship with YOU. A woman on Twitter (and a good friend of mine) who exemplifies this tip very well is Brooke Griffin (@BrookeGriffin_), Aside from being one of the most positive people you’ll ever meet (whether it’s online or in person), everything she posts on her social media accounts adds value to my life and I feel happier after interacting with her. She posts interesting articles, sends happy messages to her followers daily, and comes up with some of her own original quotes that always receive positive feedback. The DIFFERENCE between making an impression in person and online is that everything you ever say online is there in cyberspace forever. While it is sometimes easy to forget some of the things we say in person, anything you say on social media can be traced back to it’s creator. Use the opportunity to make a lasting and positive impression on those around you.
- “Be Yourself and Be Consistent.”
I think it is common for people to discredit relationships formed on social media because they don’t think they’re real. However, some of the relationships I have formed through social media are the ones I value the most. Because I have spent time investing myself to these friendships, any time I need a pick me up or real advice, I have friends who are only a click away. The relationships you build on your social media accounts are as real and as genuine as you make them out to be. With that being said, you can’t expect to gain relationships on social media over night.
Every time I log on to Twitter, I see advertisements about how to buy more followers to get more people to follow suit — but these aren’t genuine relationships. Social media is about ENGAGEMENT, not POPULARITY. If you have 100,000 followers but haven’t taken the time to form genuine relationships, then you are missing an opportunity to make an impact on your life and the people you could be interacting with. Don’t be discouraged if you feel like you aren’t progressing as quickly as you would like, every time you interact with someone is another stepping stone to building the quality relationships you’re aiming for. Before you ask anyone to read your blog or retweet your posts, think about how you would feel if someone you hardly know asked you to do favors for them. Once you build a solid foundation, eventually you won’t have to ask because people know that you genuinely care.
Part of being genuine is being TRUE to yourself and your values. While we all feel an unexplained high when we get a lot of positive feedback from the things we post on social media, people who begin to know you well will know when you post things that aren’t true to who you are. If you want people who are genuine with you, be genuine with them. Show people how to treat you by treating them the way you expect to be treated. Consistency is another key component to building genuine relationships on social media. It’s difficult to build strong foundations with other people when you aren’t checking in and updating consistently.
In the same way we wouldn’t maintain a friendship with someone who continually flaked on us, people won’t continually follow you if you disappear. Even if you don’t have something “interesting” to say, log on and say hi to some of your cyber friends, they’ll appreciate it! Someone who consistently shares my posts is Jeff Sheehan (@JeffSheehan) Every day I log onto Twitter, I see that he’s retweeted one of my posts or responded to me when I’ve shared one of his. Although we don’t always engage in conversation—Jeff maintains a relationship with me by letting me know he didn’t forget about me. Let the people who care about your posts know that they’re still on your radar to continue building worthwhile connections.