This post is written by Shawn Hessinger
10 Things Dating and Social Media Have in Common
Building relationships on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media channels is a lot like building a more intimate relationship with that special person in your life. I’ve spent years working with brands and companies, helping them court their customers using social media channels. Here are some of the simple things I’ve learned.
1. Don’t take things too fast
You wouldn’t dream of asking someone to marry you or make a long-term commitment on the first date. Then why try to build a firm customer relationship the first time you connect or follow someone in a social network?
I’ve had people connect with me and a short time later try to sell me on their product or service. I need to be wined and dined. Perhaps sent flowers. But don’t hunt for a commitment or pitch me a product or service on our very first meeting, or it might be our last.
2. Talk about the other person, not yourself
I learned a long time ago that simply following someone on Twitter does not guarantee they will follow you back. An endless stream of tweets, no matter how witty, about things that interest only you is also not necessarily a winning approach.
Ever been on a date where the other person prattles on endlessly about themselves and nothing else? Fun, huh? Instead, try this little trick: Comment on something they’ve shared or retweet something important to them. You may be surprised how quickly you make a connection!
3. Save politics and religion for later
I know many of deep conviction in both areas may dispute this, arguing that such important issues should be discussed first. However, focusing on simple compatibility, either online or in your personal relationships, will let you determine whether there is a true basis for a relationship first.
Afterwards, you can determine if other differences are important enough to discuss. By contrast, you might share either religious or political beliefs (or both) with another person and still never be able to really hit it off.
4. Focus on building a comfort level
Instead of all this, simply work on making yourself and the other person in the relationship as comfortable as possible. Share information about yourself, but not so much that you seem to be pitching something or bragging.
Carefully find common ground and identify interests you share. Work on establishing a foundation for your relationship and a basis for trust and then build upon this over time.
5. Make each engagement something special
Like a great date to an exotic location or a memorable restaurant, each social media encounter should be memorable and build the relationship in some way.
Organize live chats on Facebook or Twitter to encourage give and take with your network and to get a better sense of who they are. Share thought provoking content that encourages your followers to comment and to share with others.
These are the interactions they will remember and that will brand you as someone with whom they want to stay connected.
6. Let some of yourself shine through
Trust has to do with a personal connection between two people. This is true in both intimate and business relationships. Just as you wouldn’t date someone simply based upon status, career, money etc. (At least, I hope not.)
You wouldn’t do business with a person based only on their product, service, price, or value proposition. Instead, it is a connection and comfort level people are seeking, no matter what kind of relationship they are entering.
Letting some of your personality shine through—humor, warmth, enthusiasm, empathy—distinguishes you and helps you make a more meaningful connection.
7. Always show respect
While on a date, this means listening to the other person’s point of view without judging, and participating in the conversation without dominating it. While connecting to someone via Facebook or Twitter, it means sharing, retweeting, or commenting on someone else’s ideas as often as you share your own.
8. Shower them with affection
Recently, likes, favorites, and other positive feedback have fallen into disrepute as unethical users or perhaps robots who aren’t people at all engage in these simple positive reinforcements as a way of spamming the community for their own purposes.
Don’t let this deter you! An occasional like or brief comment on your connections’ posts lets them know you are interested and encourages them to express their thoughts. It’s a great method of relationship building they won’t soon forget.
9. Take things to the next level
In romance as in business, it’s important to know when to take your relationship to the next level. Do you live near enough to your contact to arrange a personal meeting? Have you considered connecting with them on Skype? Are there other people you might connect them to, who it might benefit them to know, or is there an online group or community you could invite them to join?
10. Establish rules for intimacy
Depending upon the social norms of the community in which you live, public displays of affection or some level of intimacy may not be encouraged, and in fact, as a romantic relationship matures, you may both be uncomfortable with being demonstrative in public.
In social media relationships, this growing closeness with your contacts may involve increased exchange of e-mails or chatting on Skype or other messaging services rather than over social media. No need to share more detailed business communications with the world.
Shawn Hessinger writes about blogging, social media, community building, and online business at shawnhessinger.com, and has worked as a professional blogger, social media, and online community manager with businesses and clients large and small all over the world. Follow him at @Shawn_Hessinger on Twitter.
photos courtesy of www.FreeDigitalPhotos.net
In the comments below please share your insights on building relationships using Social Media