I must admit this article has been quite a struggle for me to write. The sheer complexity of the social media phenomenon is hard to come to grips with and boil down into simple terms what it really means to build relationships online between a brand and its Twittering consumers. But here is my first stab at creating a tool that will guide the creation of a Social Media strategy.
As my digital thoughts usually form themselves through various aggregated sources of inspiration, so does this one pick and compile from various articles and experiences I have been exposed to recently.
In one of my previous articles, “Do not misbehave!! Designing a brand identity in social media”, I explored the notion of designing a brand identity in social media where 3 questions need to be fully understood and answered by a brand before engaging in social media space.
- Why we do what we do?
- What we do?
- How we do it?
But I got sort of stuck with trying to answer the third question. How we do it?
5 social media principles
My dear friend Misty Belardo wrote an article on Bitrebels called “Social Media Is Not Just Having A Facebook Account!” where she gives us 5 principles that are key for a successful and sustainable social media engagement. These are:
- Research: Know who your consumers are
- Actively listen: Listen to what people are saying
- Engage with your consumers: Take the time to interact
- Monitor and measure: Monitor and measure the success
- Be open to change: Be open to make the necessary changes
Now that I understood what the key principles are, I still needed to go deeper in really understanding how a brand should engage and plan its strategy.
3 C’s of social media
- Connect: connecting your brand to your target demographic
- Cultivate: Cultivating relationships is about engaging and giving. Not promoting and taking.
- Curate: The creation of truly meaningful content for the targeted audience
This is great!! As I now am able to assemble all the pieces I need to start engaging in social media… but hold on… there is one thing missing… the time factor! Relationships aren’t suddenly there! They slowly evolve over time. The relationships we know from real life all have a beginning, a middle and an end. Just like stories do. For the sake of this article I won’t cover the ending relationships. :)
3 Stages of a relationship
So diving into the psychology of a relationship I read about the Stimulus Value Role Model, (which is a fancy name for the various stages of a relationship). We select our friends and close partners through a three-stage model, filtering out those who do not fit at each stage.
Stage 1 | We meet (the stimulus stage): In the stimulus stage, we evaluate the other person in terms of physical attributes. A man, for example, may be struck by the beauty of a buxom, blonde woman. We are generally attracted to people of a similar age, appearance and ethnicity.
Stage 2 | We get to know each other (the values stage): In the value stage, we compare their values with ours and decide whether we are sufficiently compatible to continue the relationship.
Stage 3 | We are friends (the role stage): In the role stage, we share out the activities to build a working relationship. It helps if preferences for these are complementary (you do this and I’ll do that), although role attitudes need to be similar.
A proposed tool
Now that I know what stages a relationship goes through and what the critical ingredients are to move a relationship into the next stage I feel I have the right set of handles to put together a strategic tool that can help me identify the right actions and content for the appropriate moments during the evolution of the relationship.
I would like to propose a tool / model which combines the above discussed principles and helps us to plan and create a social media engagement strategy. Giving us a better understanding as to how to engage in social media.
We get to know
We are friends
|Find your target audience, and listen to what they are saying.||Actively engage in meaningful dialogue, and be inquisitive and eager to learn. The time is also ripe to tell your opinion and what you stand for.||Maintain the dialogue, and actively participate in discussions. Or even start them. Your opinion is valued and respected by this stage.|
|Identify the content yr audience is creating & start commenting on it, retweeting. Show interest.||Retweet, comment and point to interesting contents. Champion & compliment people for their contributions.||Give the most active and inspiring contributors a special stage, help them be heard. Help them be great.|
|Create content / services meaningful to them and have it available but do not start broadcasting too much. Let them find you.||Create content based on what you’ve heard yr audience say. Bring this to them and ask them their opinion. Be transparent!||Ask the most active people to join you in creating new and innovative content. Co-create together with them, and keep giving them the praise.|
Needless to say this is a first attempt to consolidate what I have learnt into something I can use in day to day practice. And I am looking for your feedback and input on this to see if we can further build and strengthen this tool and make it relevant for us all.
Please let me know your opinions!