social media relationshipsHow many times have we heard or read these words:

Be social.
Just do social.
You can do social.
You can tweet.
Social proof = social success. Buy Twitter followers here!
Learn to do social media in a day.
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The Reality

social media fairy taleSorry folks but it is not humanly or technically feasible to learn social media in a day, regardless of what a superstar, rockstar or guru the instructor claims to be.

If you are having difficulty building and nurturing social relationships via social networks, you can't learn how to do such in a half day or two day social media class.

The ability to see real results in social media takes time, goals, objectives, planning, commitment, resources, the right mindset, integration into the DNA of your organization. It also requires an understanding of both the art and science of social media.

Social media is not just tools. Social media is not just people. Social networks are simply platforms to help you better communication with your audience, partners, clients and community at whole. It is up to you how you use all of the above to build relationships that will bring benefit to your organization or to you as a human being. It's up to you to weave a social fabric that will bring result.

Related article: 15 Social Media Lies, Myths & Fairy Tales

Is Focusing On Tech Easier than Being Human?

As human beings it is natural for us to gravitate to things we know we can master. When it comes to social media and the associated tools and technology, it's no surprise many are like magnets attached to the Facebook page setup, tools, and metrics.

There is much more to social media than tools and technology. It is the human socialology aspects of social media that makes it so addicting for me. I love watching and digging deep into the reasons why and how people are interacting. What is the heartbeat driving their conversations? What is the tone and why? Why do they follow, like, share, comment and tell their friends at the soccer field about a brand or inspirational status update they read?

Return on Relationship = The Real ROI of Social Media

social relationships roi return on investment If your efforts using social media are not establishing real relationships you're missing out on the greatest benefit of all. Many find themselves lost in bits and bytes of social technology while missing out on the relationship aspect.

The risk of only focusing on the tech, you may lose the grip on WHY you are doing social in the first place. You also minimize the focus on your community, audience, clients or partners. Too much focus on the tech keeps you far from anything that will actually build solid relationships.

While this post is not about how to balance the art and science of social media (human aspect vs technology) I couldn't help but include it in this conversation on relationships.

I believe the over focus on tech is a big cause for lack of true relationships being built and as a result the reason many businesses are not seeing a business return on their efforts using social media.

Let's move on to my recommendations for building lasting and meaningful relationships using social media. I hope this post will inspire you to dig deep within the core of your being, the DNA of your organization and assess what it is going to take for you to once and for all focus on the human aspect of social.

If you have no idea where to start, we can help you. We often start with a simple social media audit to assess what you are doing, what your competition is doing and the best direction for you to move forward. Why waste another year spinning your wheels, focusing only on the tech? Make 2013 the year you take your social relationships and business results to the next level.

13 Tips to Ignite Relevant Value by Nurturing Social Relationships 

1. Provide Value
You must focus on providing the highest value possible. This means you must know your audience. Who are they? What keeps them up at night? What problems do they have?

Weave the best possible social business fabric for your community, clients and audience to tap into. Help them solve problems, build relationships with one another, learn new things and grow both personally and professionally.

2. Respect Your Community.
Respect the people in your community, the people in other communities and their roles. Don't go barging into a community another business or person has spent years nurturing and and think you can start spamming them. Respect them and they will in turn respect you.  Read “I Respect Your Social Community, Do you Respect Mine?”

3. Be honest. There is only one you, so be that person, period.
social media authenticity be youWhat happens on Twitter goes to Facebook, LinkedIn, blog posts, Pinterest and the local networking club via word of mouth. There is only one you so be that person, period. Don't setup multiple Twitter accounts with varying personalities. Chances are it is going to catch up with you eventually. If you have a problem being you offline, chances are social media is going to amplify such problem. The problem isn't the social networks, it's that you need to figure out who YOU are and what you are comfortable sharing with what audiences. See #3 below as it is the nail in the coffin for this problem for most folks.

4. Learn the difference between transparency and authenticity.
You do not have to share what you had for dinner with your grandma last Sunday night on every social network by Monday in order to be authentic. Related Article “Are Authentic Social Relationships Over Rated?

5. Be patient.
This is the biggest mistake I see people and brands make regarding social media. They think just because they have now joined the almost one billion people on Facebook that the world should throw a party in their honor. What they don't realize is they were already late to their own party happening in their name.

Relationships take time. Just as it takes you time to learn the technology and how to leverage it to build relationships via social media, it is going to take time to ignite and nurture real relationships. Don't be a spammer, send coupons all day or fall back to old or bad ways because you get desperate.

6. Learn the ropes of both tech and etiquette.
I have seen social media instructors literally tell classes to ignore all rules. I've heard them say “who cares what the old timers say, we are the new guys making the new rules.” While there is some truth in this, there is also a respect needed for norms of any society or community.

Learn the etiquette and norms of the communities you are joining. If you don't know how to do this, hire a consultant or an agency to help you do the research and teach you the skills. This is where both art and science come together. This also takes time to don't be too hard on yourself.

7. Listen more than you talk.
Spend time listening, learning and hearing more than you talk if you are just starting out on the social networks. When I first hopped on Twitter I spent 2-3 months just watching, listening, and learning. I shared other people's content. I then started blogging and contributing once I understood the conversation, how people were conversing and engaging.

Listen with a goal to understand and get in the head of your audience, clients and community.

8. Give more than you take.
This is pretty simple. You know what to do. Show value. Share your best stuff.  Related Video: Heartbeat of Social Media

9. Come out from behind the logo avatar. 
Show your real self. Let your brand show it's true personality. Humanize your social stream, tweets, Facebook page and status updates.

10. Do not determine who you communicate with via social media via a social media influence score. You may miss out on your best client, partner or friend if you do such. Make people laugh. Make people cry. Give them real value and your scores will go up organically. Focus on the metrics that bring business result and the other numbers will follow. Trust me, it works!

11. Know who is at the driver wheel of your tweet deck.
As we have seen with brands over and over, who you have behind the wheel of your tweet machine is very important. Do they have the right morals. Will they tweet something that conflicts directly with your company values? This is important regardless of if you are using all internal resources for your social media or also depending on the help of consultants or agencies. Ask the hard questions. Know who is behind the tweet wheel. Ensure that you have proper approvals in place and that there isn't going to be an accidental tweet going out on Saturday night that sabotages your brand. Yes, mistakes happen but much of what we have seen happen to large brands could have easily been avoided with proper social media execution and risk management.

Are you managing the associated risk? I can not stress enough how important this is. One Twitter mess up and your brand could have a social PR crisis the next morning. Are you ready to manage such risk? Prevent such risk? If you don't know where to start with this, we can help. Our social media audits help root out these risks from the start!

Related Article: Bad Tweets Happen to Good Brands that Don't Manage Social Media Risk

12. Humanize your business from the inside out, with realistic expectations.
humanize social businessThis isn't going to happen overnight. If your organization is still communicating via direct mail, printed collateral or the hideous monthly newsletter then chances are you are not going to change these habits overnight. Build a plan with realistic goals and objectives and a supporting plan to help you get there. The more realistic you can build your plan the higher the chances you will actually ever implement!

13. Don't just do social or be social, be socially relevant.
Be socially relevant. As much as you may wish it was, your Facebook page and social media presence is not all about you. Everything you do should be providing value to your community, audience and clients. Be real, be relevant, and provide the highest value you possibly can. You can never go wrong by investing in the lives and businesses of real people. Help enough people see their dreams come to fruition and chances are yours will do the same along the way.

Inspire others to connect with you and your brand. Help them achieve their goals and by default you will achieve yours. Inspire – Connect – Achieve!

#GetRealChat Twitter Chat CommunityBonus Tip: I hope this opens up a dialogue of healthy conversation. We discuss these matters and more on #GetRealChat every Tuesday at 9pm et on Twitter. Would love to see your smiling face there!


Heartbeat of Social Media Series

This blog post is part of a series titled “The Heartbeat of Social Media“. It includes a deep look at how communities work, what people are doing within them and how businesses can better understand how they can fit in, provide value and derive benefit as both a business as well as individual people.

Subscribe to the series for updates and access to special videos, webinar training and more. Would love to hear your input and have you participate in discussions and debates as we challenge each other to be part of what makes the social network heartbeat healthy and alive!