There is an amazing sermon series happening at my church right now (I'm A Bridge) about building bridges. While one of my favorite quotes is, "Sometimes the hardest thing in life is to know which bridge to cross and which to burn," this series focuses more on the actual building of the bridge.
Building bridges is a very critical thing that many brands are missing in social media. They look at which consumers they want to buy their product, and which they don't really care that much about, and then go after them in their own unique social way. That's all fine and dandy except most consumers have no reason to organically care about your brand seeking them out on social media.
A very interesting point that's come out of this sermon series is that you have to meet people where they are in order to get through to them. I've touched on this a bit already in my post, Relating To Others Is Critical In Social Media. I really see this applying to the sought after Oreo Super Bowl win. Ever since Oreo so beautifully cashed in on the power outage at the Super Bowl, every brand has tried to emulate the real-time success. What most brands fail to realize is that Oreo knew where its fans were and how to enter the conversation in an authentic way that made sense to the brand.
Real-time engagement is one hundred percent necessary for brands on social media, now more than ever. My 2015 prediction is that one-to-one personal interaction between brands and their consumers will become a requirement for brands that want to succeed in social media. However, this does not mean just deciding what consumers you want to go after and crossing the bridge over to them --> it means BUILDING the bridge to those consumers, and here's how:
Number one thing before any brand can build anything is knowing the brand's value proposition. Who are you as a brand? What kind of conversations make sense for you to be entering on social? What's the personality, tone, look, feel that you want to represent your brand? Create a list of the top topics you want to talk about online that sync with your brand identity.
Find social influencers that complement your brand identity. These can be anything from a competitor brand that you look up to that is killing it on social, to individuals that you could see as brand advocates for your brand someday.
Sit back and listen to the conversations that your influencers are having online. Create a list of hashtags that are relevant to your brand and constantly monitor conversations around them. Get a good grasp on how the social community is talking about the topics you want to talk about, so when you're ready to enter the conversation, you can do so effortlessly. Listen for places where you can build a bridge in the conversation.
If you're building a bridge, then you need to be adding value. You need to be connecting your social community in a way that benefits them. Don't just enter the conversation for a laugh, but rather to add value in a way that no other brand could. Provide insights that you have, connect influencers that you think could help each other, point towards products/services that could help with an issue someone is talking about.
If you want to be in the business of building bridges and entering real-time conversations, then you have to commit. You have to follow-up on the conversations you've entered in order to not look like you were just entering the conversation on a whim for your benefit. Deepen the relationship with your social community by setting a reminder to check-in on those you built bridges for, making sure that you actually added value and seeing if there is anyway you can continue to add value to the conversation.
When all else fails, fall back on the cocktail party analogy. Would you enter a conversation at a cocktail party from left field, or would you make sure whatever you had to say was on point with what others were talking about? Ensuring you are building bridges, and not just deciding which ones to cross and which ones to burn for your selfish reason, is the number one way to ensure that you are entering the right real-time conversations at the right time.
- Marji J. Sherman