Several times, recently, we have had clients snicker or smirk when speaking of the ‘virtual relationships’ that form online. We have heard people discuss the fact that kids don’t know how to relate to others because they spend so much time online. And, while we certainly aren’t condoning allowing kids to spend their entire childhood in front of a screen, we must argue that online relationships are anything but ‘virtual’. Social media has opened doors for business professionals that never existed before. Sure, it was possible to converse with the customers who walked into the brick and mortar store, but this made for a very limited audience, because it was so tied to a physical location.
With social media, the audience has expanded, and the opportunity to build relationships, to genuinely converse with customers from thousands of miles away is now possible.
If you don’t understand the very real nature of online relationships, then you are missing fabulous opportunities, for yourself and for your business. People don’t interact with brands, they interact with the people behind the brand.
Be a person online and people will consider you more approachable. Approach them first, or be quick to respond when they reach out to you and you can build real relationships in a virtual space. Those relationships are as important as the ones that you build in the ‘real world’. Why? Because relationships are important to business. They lead to conversations. They can lead to sales. They can lead to loyalty, and that is a very real result of a very real relationship.
When a person feels that he or she has a relationship with you, he or she is more likely to do business with you. Your brand will become a recognized symbol and one that their eye jumps to when it shows up in other social feeds.
In essence, for those individuals, you can become the store clerk from the mom-and-pop shops of the years past. This was someone they could trust — someone that they knew and conversed with freely, someone they knew could provide insight and advice on the products or services that they needed and wanted in life. The relationship hasn’t changed, but the scenery has.