One of the illusions of online marketing is that your thousands of fans and followers can actually be moved to action.
Consider that the more your networks grow the weaker every connection becomes.
It’s almost as if your business growth cannibalizes the value of your network relationships. Of course, this has been a problem for growing businesses long before the Internet.
Yet, now that we have technology to develop and manage our relationships, we can better nurture them – provided the quality of the interactions are personal, human, and yes, even intimate.
Intimacy is a Viable Social Marketing Strategy
Intimacy in the context of social marketing means being the best person, business, or brand you can be. This is clearly not possible when your tweets and posts are automated or handled by an outside agency. People engage with your business because they desire a relationship with you.
Isn’t that also why people buy?
This is also why social marketing is the new relationship selling. Both work best when there is cooperation and collaboration that serves to develop the relationship to a level of trust and intimacy.
I imagine some people are uncomfortable with the word intimacy in business situations. Intimacy is not necessarily physical, but it does involve emotions of caring, belonging, and trust that are often what drive buying behaviors.
For me personally, I have reduced my posts here because I’m also working to develop more inclusive and intimate communities with my weekly newsletter and upcoming weekly podcast. For those of you that are doing the same with your communities, you know there is a significant emotional and time commitment associated with giving your very best.
When you give your community your best they will learn to expect that on a regular basis. That’s the commitment. So, for this to work you have to decide if you want to go viral or build a sustainable business. I’m assuming you are choosing the latter.
Practices for developing more intimate communities.
1. Encourage replies to your weekly newsletter (and of course respond in kind). Hat tip to Chris Brogan for this.
2. Show up on time and with regularity. That’s what friends do.
3. Deliver original perspectives that can be found nowhere else, including your other channels.
4. Create a new language of recognizable keywords and phrases that are exclusive to your community.
5. Be inclusive. That’s what intimacy is all about.
Choose to Connect with People That Care
My experience with some of the most connected and influential people on the web is that they are responsive.
This doesn’t mean they respond to every single tweet and comment, but their communities nevertheless know they care. How about yours?
People that care enough to take the action of responding are the ones that can help you grow your business. They may be colleagues, customers, or influencers. However they are typically defined, I personally like to think of them all as partners.
The social web is teaching us that sharing, cooperation, and collaboration are the methods for accomplishing both ordinary and even extraordinary results. What is not so obvious is how a more intimate approach to marketing and selling can breathe new life into our communities.
How about you? Have you tried to shift your messaging to make it more personal and intimate?
Jeff is also the author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business – (Wiley 2013)