Remember the days when newspapers and radio were the main ways people communicated to the masses? In those days, if you were a journalist or broadcaster you gained instant credibility and status. Technology has lowered the barriers to becoming a communicator. Social media is bringing a voice to the masses and now more than ever building relationships online is paramount. Although social media is accessible to everyone, business owners are still grappling with what it means to have every other customer be a publisher. Social media can now make or break businesses, personalities, nations, brands, or ideas in a New York minute. If you give great customer service or offer a great product, you may get some glowing reviews. If you’re inefficient or negligent even one time you’ll likely have someone ranting about it online. The same rule of thumb applies online as did in the traditional word of mouth era: Bad news travels faster than good news
Building relationships online can have an indelible impact on their perception of your company. Trust lies at the core of every strong personal relationship – the same goes for relationships stakeholders have with brands. Someone who has had great experiences with a company will be quick to forgive, just like friends will forgive more of each other than they would of strangers. The driving force behind consumers’ desires to share positive stories about businesses is the trust they have in the products, services and people associated with those entities. This is why building relationships online is just as important as the face-to-face relationships we once shared with the neighborhood pharmacist or the mom-and-pop diner.
The Internet has an endless supply of tools to build and maintain relationships so that businesses and their customers no longer need be strangers. Here are just a few tools you can implement into your online marketing mix to start building relationships online.
A blog is basically the home for your business’ online content. They started off as online journals but have emerged to offer companies a way to communicate messages to their clients through articles. Blogs can offer tips and tricks, valuable information about your products or press releases to alert your clientele about things your company is doing.
A podcast is an episodic series of audio publications, similar to a radio show. This digital media source is recorded and aired through iTunes, blogs and other content channels.
Newsletters are personal and reach clients directly in their email inboxes. Newsletters can be emailed weekly, bi-weekly or monthly to engage customers when they may not be interacting on your website regularly.
You’re familiar with social channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest. All of these social channels provide your company with an extra voice on the web to lead people back to your website or brick and mortar store. Building relationships online through social channels is paramount for any business. Social channels create a two-way conversation platform in a more casual setting than your company website.