social brand relevancyA word that has been on my mind the past few weeks is relevancy. I am finding myself writing it as well as explaining it to clients, partners, colleagues and students.  It is a word we all talk about yet many don't understand.

I have also received several comments asking me “relevant to who?” on posts that include discussions of relevancy.

Why are they asking me “who” their brand should be relevant to? I think often times people get to the bottom of a blog post and become frustrated they weren't provided all of the answers to complete their business and integrated social marketing plan.

No post can be everything to everyone. However, there is definitely a confused theme running through many social circles regarding relevancy.

Note: This is the first in a series of blog posts I am going to deliver to attempt to provide some structure so at minimum those interested can have a discussion. My hope is we can help those truly wanting to understand how they can be more relevant. I also hope we can talk through it ourselves, share best practices, helpful resources such as blog posts, books, thought leaders etc.  As a start we are going to kickoff a discussion on relevancy on the weekly Tuesday evening #GetRealChat at 9pm et starting tonight.

Relevancy is not one size fits all.
There is no easy button for social brand relevancy. There is no short cut.  Relevancy requires understanding, knowledge, and communication. It takes time and requires investment on your part. Enough that you are able to grab the attention of the recipient.

Are people going back to their old traditional marketing spam ways?
I summarized an experience I had last Friday afternoon as my phone buzzed and beeped for several hours while it was filled with irrelevant spam. The spam was coming from self proclaimed marketers who haven't taken the time to know me, inspire me or connect with me. They have no clue who I am, what I like or how they can connect with me.  What is the result? The result is irrelevant content which in my book usually equals spams. It comes from email, LinkedIn, Facebook messages and Twitter direct messages.

Irrelevant (aka spam) communications sources fall into three camps:

1. Don't know better marketers: They are trying, yet don't know what they are doing. They are either following the bad advice of a consultant or agency, listening to other clueless marketers or simply having a hard time understanding. Their intentions are good, their execution is C- at best.

2. Know better spammers. These are the peeps who know better but choose to ignore. They know they are spamming. They watch the opt-outs soar from their email list. However, the short term sale is more important to them than real relationships that can sustain their business. They tend to be focused on short term versus long term sustainability and success.

3. Somewhere in between. These are the peeps that are trying yet they don't have the time, money or resource to do it right. They know they should be taking time to better understand and connect with their audience. However, as similar to the “know better spammers” they choose to ignore. They may have stints of relevant communications. However, most of the time they return back to the old faithful spam mentality.

Relevancy Defined:
1. a: relation to the matter at hand.

b. practical and especially social applicability.

2. the ability (as of an information retrieval system) to retrieve material that satisfies the needs of the user.

Social Brand Relevancy
What exactly is social brand relevancy? To understand, start with the definition of relevancy. Study it, think about it and relate it to the brands that are relevant to you. Why are they relevant? What makes them memorable? Then second understand that social brand relevancy is the ability to be relevant to your audience.

Hopefully you are not hoping that this post is going to tell you the answer to what is relevant to your audience? Sorry folks, it's not possible for me to do such without me understanding more about your business, your clients,  your market, your competition and the list goes on.


11 Tips to Understanding Social Brand Relevancy

1. Start with your audience. If you want to know how to be relevant to your audience you must start with your audience.   Who are they? What do they need? What do they want? Why do they want it? WHY should they listen to you? Why should they acknowledge you exist? Why should they listen, click, like, circle, tweet or engage with your brand on any level or form?

2. Understand your own business. Who are you wanting to be relevant to and why?  The why you want to be relevant to them should be supported by your business plan and objectives.  What can you offer your audience, clients, partners, blog readers that they don't elsewhere? What makes your brand memorable? Why should they do the double click?

3. Answer the WHY. The answers to the WHY questions are within the marriage of your audience and your business. You can not have one without the other. If you only talk about yourself and your brand with no understanding of your audience then you will have little to zero relevance with them.  If you do not understand your own business, the key differentiators and how you can help them then you are also irrelevant.

Brian Solis wrote an excellent article “The Number One Least Asked Question in Social Media…WHY.” that I highly encourage you to check out to better understand this concept.

4. You need to offer something of value. I know veteran marketers are thinking “doi, of course we do.”  However, I know there are many who don't get this.  Yes, you can tweet, Facebook all day with tips, tricks & links to relevant content. However, at some point there must be content that is being thought of, created, and provided by you for your your audience. You must at some point inspire them past a tweet, past a Facebook post, past a like. If your home base, website or blog hosts nothing of relevance and value your chances of success in social media are slim to none. Establishing trust should be a top goal. If your audience trusts you they will be more likely to listen and engage with your brand. To grab their attention there must be something of relevance behind the glass curtain, behind the Facebook like tab and the list goes on.

5. Create brand experiences. It isn't enough anymore to simply communicate and blast noise. We must create experiences for those who come in contact with our brand. Give them something to think about, something to chew on. Make them think. Strike an emotional chord. Do such in a way it is meaningful, memorable and real. Remember that each and every encounter someone has with your brand leaves a brand imprint. Make each one count!

6. Relevancy is in a constant state of change. The social ecosystem, technology, financial markets and everything else moves at the speed of sound.  We live in a constant state of change and evolution.  Therefore, what is relevant today is not always relevant tomorrow.  One product, social network, competitor acquisition can change the game entirely. I love the formula Brian Solis provided in a recent post, Disruption + Innovation + Engagement = Relevance.  He refers to digital darwinism as the evolution of consumer behavior when society & technology evolve faster than your ability to embrace it.

7. Providing relevancy is going to take work! Accept the fact that you must always work to understand, inspire and connect with your audience.  You must always be listening, engaging, measuring, adapting and refining.

8. You can't skip the people. This is where I see too many marketers and business leaders fail with social media. Social media is about the people plain and simple. Ignore the people and you will fail. Check out the three part blog series I wrote on this specific topic for a deeper dive and exploration into the people side of social media and brand relevancy.  Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

9. The tools matter but they don't come first. Yes, the tools and platforms within the social ecosystem matter. How you tweet and Facebook matters. However, you must first understand your audience and what you can do for them before you prioritize the tools and how you are going to use them. It's more important you first understand where your audience is hanging out and how they are engaging in the social circles versus how exactly every feature works. The knowledge of the tools will come in time. Focus on the people and they will guide you to the right tools and engagement methodologies.

10. Don't try to boil the ocean. We all know budgets are tight, resources are stretched and perfection is the enemy of good. Don't wait to enter the social ecosystem or wait to stop spamming until you have a perfect plan.  You will NEVER find a perfect social media plan, template or blog post that will give you all the answers.  The only plan that is perfect is the one that works for your audience.

11. Take relevancy seriously. I often end a series of tips with something similar to “have fun” or “don't sweat it.”  Sorry peeps, I can't do such on this one.  You must take relevancy to your audience seriously. You can't skip it and you can't short cut it. Investing in the people and your connection to them via your brand and message is the only option.  Have fun doing such but not so much you lose focus on the importance.

Social Brand Relevancy: Is it about You or Me?
What do you think the answer is here? So it you or me? My opinion is that it is about the WE! It is how WE connect. The connection determines if you are relevant.  However, it starts with understanding me. Otherwise your message will never be relevant enough for me to read let alone click, like, circle, opt-in or listen.

Your Turn
What are your thoughts? Are the brands marketing to you relevant? Can you easily spot the spammers? Do you understand the importance of relevancy? If no, what do you find most difficult to comprehend? Is the challenge understanding your audience? Understanding how your business can help them?

What resources can you recommend for others to learn from? What videos, blog posts have helped you better understand the concept of relevancy and connection in social media?

Additional Resources:

It's About the People Stupid: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

“The Number One Least Asked Question in Social Media…WHY.” (Brian Solis)

Quit Trying to Sell Me More Stuff: 10 Tips to Provide More Value

7 Steps to the Perfect Social Media Plan

8 Things You Must Know About Your Audience to Inspire & Connect in Social Media

Inspiration Made Simple: Pick 3 Things

Social Brand Relevancy: 10 tips to Stand Above the Crowd

What Social Brand Experience Are You Giving Your Audience?

Is Your Brand Relevant to Your Social Media Audience? (Ted Rubin)