What is Your Relationship Strategy?

by Jay Deragon on 09/02/2010

Linkedin, Twitter and Facebook are not a social media strategy. They are merely channels for your content and containers reflecting your presence. Your presence and content mean nothing to others unless you can add value to others.

Everyone seems to be pursuing social media strategies and many, if not all, call themselves a strategist. Most of the actions in the social space today are consumed with marketing and advertising using the same thinking with new technology. The essence of all things social is relational while the market uses all things social as institutional mediums for traditional marketing.

A relationship strategy  differs from a  marketing strategy in that it recognizes the long-term value  of  forming lasting relations, as opposed to most “Intrusion” marketing strategies.  Old marketing strategies focus upon acquisition of new clients by targeting majority demographics based upon prospective target lists.

Developing a proper relationship strategy requires understanding the needs, attitudes and intents of buyers.  Once understood then the process of fine tuning tactics, images and communications that attract buyers  who want  to reach your business and not businesses trying to reach buyers.

Clearly social media is already having an impact on relationships.  Buyers opting to follow Twitter streams, join community programs, opt in for blog feeds or become “fans” on Facebook are signaling they are opting in to some sort of communication, a relationship.  The reason is  buyers are choosing to interact with other people and brands through  vehicles of communications, social media.

Much has been written about being customer focused strategies. The problem with customer focused  strategies  are they are almost always phrased in terms of the benefits to the seller. And that changes everything.

Customer focus is the focus of a vulture. It is all about the benefit to the seller. The customer is treated as an object, a means to the seller’s ends. Yes, organizations  want to serve customers better—but for their sake, not the buyers sake.  Then organizations  are surprised when buyers see this as cynical. In the rush to dissect consumer behavior, organizations  have forgotten that relationship motivations matter.

Faking Trust

Do organizations and people understand what the term “relationship” means in the hearts of the buyer or have we become consumed with a one-sided selfish view of the term relationship?

The term “relationship” has been hijacked in service to selfish motives. When you individually or institutionally say, “follow us on Twitter, join our Facebook Fan page, follow our blog blah blah blah”  do they not consider how people view their motives. What is at stake is no less than the meaning of the words, join and follow, which implies a relationship.  The credibility and trust of those saying them is at stake because the intent of “join and follow” are quickly revealed as a one-sided proposition, we want your results to target you.

Relationship Strategies are About Thinking In Human Terms

The human network is built on trusted relations. Serving people’s interest and intent will  return more than the self-serving narrowly calculating marketing strategies of the vulture economy.

A relationship strategy built on trusting the human network is the best strategy to follow.  It is rare; most organizations do not trusted themselves thus they have a hard time trusting the human network.

A relationship strategy begins with having the right philosophy. You have to believe in people before you can expect people to believe in you. No strategy can be successful unless it is grounded in the right beliefs. Believe it or not most uses of this thing called “social media” are doing nothing but stealing time away from real relations.