Kristie Baxter Photography (Stock Vault)

Kristie Baxter Photography (Stock Vault)

We all know that people are on social media for different reasons. Some to interact with their family and friends, some for business, and some because someone else told them they were missing out if they weren’t on [insert any of the social media sites]. Oh, and of course, some for all of the above!

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, social media is a business tool. It’s not the magic bullet for business and shouldn’t replace other methods of getting the word out about your business. Especially when it comes to building and maintaining solid relationships with customers, media, vendors and partners.

Social media functions best through connections and is fantastic for outreach, but who do you really “know”? Can you really name all of your 2,000 Twitter followers? We dare you to try!

If you’re on social media for business, use the tools accordingly for your business, and be sure to reserve an opportunity for truly authentic connection on platforms. Don’t ask, “So what do you think about [insert your product/service]?” if you’re not prepared for honest feedback. People want to be heard. Indeed, filter through the naysayers, but be sure that you’re engaging with those individuals as well.

On the flip side, don’t ever underestimate the value of picking up the phone or lunch appointments. Actually “meeting people” (not Tweeple), speaking with them on the phone or even having an e-conversation that goes beyond 140 or 400 characters is critical. Some things to remember:

Filter Through Connections. Would you prefer 100 people who actually know and love your product, or 1,000 people who will never purchase a single thing from you? Quality versus quantity people will prefer the 100 because they know if they do a great job engaging those 100 individuals, those people will tell 10 more, who will tell 10 more, etc. Plus, the “who” you know is important when an actual relationship exists. Have you ever heard people say, “I’m Facebook friends with [insert person]”? And that means…?? Being connected is beneficial and can open the door to further communication, however, not if you’re not there to actually establish a relationship.

Do Your Research. Just because Susie is connected to Bob, who is connected to John, who is connected to your cousin, Faye…this does not mean that Susie can be “vouched” for. Having 50 people in common shouldn’t automatically make [insert name] your new BFF. Reach out to people you do know, ask questions, find out how they know “so-and-so,” and if they actually know so-and-so. You’ll be surprised at how much more valuable a connection may be when an actual relationship exists. Oh, and because it’s a small world after all…remember to always be good to people. Need a reminder? Go here.

Things Aren’t Always What They Seem. We’d like to believe that most people’s online personality is consistent with their real personality. Sense of humor? Great! Occasional snark? Cool! Full of wit? Brilliant! But you’ve heard of stage personality or persona, right? Some people just know how to “turn it on.” Same is true for social media interactions. Some people who have vibrant social media personalities may be horrible speakers and not the ideal keynote for your next event. Pick…up…the…phone and schedule a face-to-face meeting.

What other tips do you have to build and maintain relationships beyond social media?

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