“Starbucks has a role and a meaningful relationship with people that is not only about the coffee” – Howard Schultz (brainyquote.com, 2019)
The thought of always having to depend on others, to please others, to even think about the interests that others have outside our own can often seem taxing to us… yet here we are seeking out relationships and, in some way, continuing to make connections whenever we can and wherever we go. University of California Los Angeles psychology scientist and one of Science Magazine’s top 50 science stars in 2014 on Twitter (You, 2014), Dr. Matthew Lieberman, asserts in his book, Social – Why Our Brains Are Wired To Connect, that the need to connect with others is a basic necessity of our lives, and that it is as important to us as the food we eat and the water we drink (Cook, 2013). So, what does this mean? Is Dr. Lieberman telling us that we need each other whether we like it or not? Possibly so… and what an interesting revelation that can have extraordinary impacts in our personal and professional lives. Dr. Lieberman’s research shares a compelling story about ourselves and each other through the lens of behavior that may help explain much of our intentions, however on a personal level, I’m going to leave the questions for you to decide what this means to you.
With all this talk about relationships and making connections with other people, it is important for us to put this into the context of marketing and how we are reaching our intended audiences. Relationship marketing – or otherwise understood as a component of Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC), is that sheer ability to create a two – way dialogue with consumers and secure your brand in a long – term relationship. How then, can you fit this into your promotional mix? Social media I say! The International Telecommunication Union (ITU, 2018) statistics share that through 2018 3.9 billion people, or 51.2 percent of this planet’s population, was online through a variety of devices. This presents a prime opportunity for companies to take advantage of today’s dynamic world of technology and reach out and connect with consumers online. However, it isn’t always that simple and oftentimes businesses just don’t know what to do. Take a look at this example from Nike’s Twitter feed (Nike, 2019) from earlier this year. Here you can see their announcement of “Air Max Day.” By asking one simple question to engage consumers… the ice is broken, and the relationship building begins. Nike has allowed for consumers to engage with them on a personal level by sharing their experiences. In a two – way dialogue, Nike interacts in the same feed as seen in the other example below (Nike, 2019). Here a consumer posts their concerns about the product, and Nike immediately responds and personalizes the conversation and the experience with the consumer.
Now we all can’t be global giants in the footwear industry where the brand can wear itself (had to!), however each business can evaluate their own present levels on social media and assess further whether or not they are engaged with their customers. Take these three thoughts into consideration when you are looking into your company’s use of social media:
- Are you being proactive and regularly updating your social media with something new? Consumers want to hear from you! Don’t be a fly on the wall that ignores and gets ignored. You don’t have to be the fly at the barbeque that everyone gets annoyed with either, but just be consistent and make regular updates that are relevant. If you stay boring others may lose interest in your brand.
- If someone asks a question, did you answer it? If you just thought to yourself SMH… Kinda rude to the consumer dontcha think? Each business will need to assess their ability to keep up with comments if you find yourself overwhelmed with questions, however carving out the right balance, prioritizing, and making best effort is better than not responding at all.
- Did you help find a solution to a concern? Similar to answering general questions, but the point is to show consumers that you care and want to help them. Remember the above Nike example?
This, of course, isn’t a complete list of ideas or recommendations but hopefully they can help you start thinking about what you are, or aren’t, already doing with social media. An important key is to personalize the consumer experience so that a long – term relationship with your brand can exist, and social media provides us those tools to stay connected. I once worked as an HR professional where I held new employee orientations and the complete on-boarding process. My goal was to make the very first day of a new employee the most memorable day for them in the organization… to believe in the brand… to love their decision to join our team… and to keep coming back! I can feel a similarity with engaging on social media and providing that experience. Think about the above quote from the former CEO and Chairman of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, about relationships beyond your product and search for a place where relationships are a part of the brand as well. Now reach into your instincts and get online to connect with others! Because you might want to, even if you don’t think you do.
Brainyquote.com (2019). Howard Shultz Quotes. Retrieved From: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/howard_schultz_579198?src=t_relationship
Cook, G. (2013). Why We Are Wired To Connect. Scientist Matthew Lieberman uncovers the neuroscience of human connections—and the broad implications for how we live our lives. Retrieved From: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-we-are-wired-to-connect/
ITU.INT (2018). Statistics. Global ICT Developments, 2001 – 2018. Retrieved From: https://www.itu.int/en/ITU-D/Statistics/Pages/stat/default.aspx
Nike [@Nike]. (2019, March 26). Air Max Day is here. Which pair are you rocking? Share your Air: https://twitter.com/Nike/status/1110541947939115008
You, J. (2014). The Top 50 Science Stars of Twitter. Retrieved From: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2014/09/top-50-science-stars-twitter