In public relations, we strive to steer, mold, and mend our client’s social media presence in a positive direction. Social media platforms configure with algorithms and maps catered to a specific and limited audience, sometimes, down to the individual. While one can always depend on the possibility of those algorithms boosting engagement numbers, the best way to ensure the development of online customer relationships is by forging them the good old-fashioned way, through communication.
All platforms are a channel for connection, but Twitter reigns supreme in the art of dialogue. Twitter allows accounts to build a following through the power of the written word. It thrives off insight, humor, and controversy. To form connections, much like personal interaction, our comments need to be appealing. Commenting on a post with tinges of insight, humor, or controversy, are sure to elicit a response or, at the very least, a “like”.
Providing insight on another’s tweet begs to be acknowledged. People enjoy being agreed with or learning more about the topic they like. If a tweet is about a new car part installation, an insightful response would express knowledge on cars, a question about the installation, or relate an experience. A well-thought-out response invites the tweet’s creator to feel appreciated.
Humor is difficult to ignore. Whether it highlights someone’s boring day or whether it makes a good day better, responding to someone’s tweet with humor creates a memory. It is easier to make a stranger laugh through personal interaction than to make someone laugh on the opposite side of a screen. When it’s achieved, it is received positively.
Being controversial online risks creating negative tension with a stranger, but it’s difficult to overlook. People don’t welcome challenges and will seek opportunities to sway adversaries their way. However, there is a right way to challenge someone.
Always avoid monstrous conflict, providing snarky offensive comments against someone’s religion, politics, or values is never going to end well. But if someone says Whataburger is the holy grail of burgers, it’s safe to challenge the tweeter to a new taste, like In-n-Out. It stirs the pot without risking a war. This method, although handy, should not be the go-to. Too much controversy can ruin a business’s reputation and credibility.
Attaining a response is a form of analytic engagement, and that is what clients want; however, the engagement that matters the most is the establishment of a relationship. A potential client or customer is just around the timeline. Whether a tweet relates to your field or product is irrelevant. Spark a conversation. If you’re afraid of rejection, stick to the three skills described above.
Establishing a relationship will have the greatest pay-off. For example, picture yourself shopping. You need to find your best friend the perfect birthday gift, but you don’t know what. You got yourself to their favorite store but there’s a plethora of athletic gear, now what?
While you contemplate the many options, an associate approaches you and asks about your shoes. Yes, they are new, and you thank them for noticing. They ask if you play basketball, and you say yes. They ask where, and you share what gym. Before you know it, you’re talking about your most recent win and how your best friend almost cost you the game over a girl. While you’d been relishing in basketball with this stranger, you forgot why you were there. The associate is already around, so you ask him for help. He has just what you need.
You made a connection with a stranger over basketball. The pair of basketball shorts you purchased was an afterthought. Whether you’re ready to admit it or not, he created a positive relationship with his customer. In the future, when you have another athletic need, you’ll think of him. He may have your business for a while because he didn’t disrupt your shopping experience by asking you how he could help you, he asked you about your shoes. This is also how Twitter works.
Even as a professional account, we have to establish real relationships on the timeline. Let’s face it, you often overlook sponsored ads. Use your platform to infiltrate other people’s tweets with your insightful, humorous, or challenging input and watch the conversation ignite. Once the conversation is sparked, all you have to do is continue to respond. A professor of mine once said, “a relationship ends when the conversation does.” So, don’t stop communicating.
A brand is built on relationships, not just numbers. Building relationships is always easier said than done. If you’re anything like I was a few years ago, you’ll never stop needing extra strength antiperspirant when engaging with new people, but practice makes perfect. There will be days when attempts will go ignored. That’s okay. The work isn’t over, and you’re bound to make a connection. The public relations field is about community and there are plenty of people in the world to communicate with. As the Sammis|Ochoa team believes, have faith and never give up!
If you take anything with you from this read, take this:
1. Relationships build brands. No matter how important the numbers and analytics are, nothing is more important than a loyal consumer.
2. Provide insight on someone else’s post. Do it! Do it right now. Use your voice to connect.
3. Humor is memorable. Pandemic or not, humor heals. Keep your brand memorable by spreading cheer through humor.
4. Controversy is not always a bad thing. Try to disagree with someone, but do not insult them! Your opinion is valid, being mean is not.
Do not jump straight for the sale, jump straight for the relationship. How many times have you ignored a store associate after being asked, “Do you need anything?” Too many times. How many times have you responded to someone asking you about your epic fandom sweater? More than once, that is for sure! Put your best conversational foot forward when connecting with others online.
To get started building better online relationships contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 210.390.5546.