Your Customers Could Be Your Friends

Stock image of friendship.

It doesn’t just have to be business.  In fact, most consumers look for a closer relationship with their products.  Starbucks helped get you through the day by providing that delicious boost of energy your body requires.  Your Toyota helped get you across the nation to see the biggest ball of yarn and the Grand Canyon.  Your favorite Nike shoes helped bring you across the finish line of a marathon you never thought you’d do.  People are constantly looking for connections with one another and are getting used to the idea that some brands are looking for those connections too.  These brands want to be a part of your life and want to hear your story.  After all, it’s their product that’s helping to create the memories and the stories.  But you’ll notice I didn’t say most brands are making the attempt.  Herein lies the problem.

A very large number of businesses are still not embracing the idea that becoming a contributing part of the online community is worth-while.  And some of the ones that are finally easing in to the idea have the wrong idea about what they should be doing.  Since Facebook and Twitter and FourSquare and Yelp and every other social media site have business owners buzzing, most know that they need to claim their online real estate, but have the wrong idea on why they should be doing it.

Social media sites offer the rare opportunity to connect with your customers on a personal level.  It allows business owners to show the intimate, caring, fun side of the business.  You can now answer individual questions and concerns in a community setting.  You can now be a part of people’s everyday lives and let them be a part of yours.  The only rule: you have to become a part of the community instead of becoming a product pusher.  Provide useful information and listen to your customers.  Let them do the talking and respond to everything.  Allow your brand to build in their hearts and make them your friends.  That’s how you convert friends to customers.  Build online relationships, build your business.  It’s that simple.

And if you don’t think people will follow, tell that to Starbucks, Nike and Toyota.  Over 7 million, over 2 million and nearly 100,000 fans respectively.  That could be your online community.  It’s just a matter of how much you can dream. (Ok, that was a little cheesy…)

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