When you build an online presence in the online community, that's just the start. Truth is, when you build it, they don't just come. You have to go out and actively bring people to you. Once you move to a neighborhood, you have to figure out what it takes to be a good online neighbor.
Communication is the key. Are you sharing? Is your content good? Do you consistently update? Do you respond in a timely manner? Do you actively engage your community and build new relationships? Are you looking for ways to build great relationships with your clients?
These are all good questions to ask yourself to assess where you are at with regards to your online relationship building. Building relationships in person is a much easier task than building them in a virtual setting. Virtual relationships take extra work and extra thought. For a business owner it come down to one thing, helping people win.
Search Engine Guide has a post that I think is great in breaking down the philosophy of successful online relationship building. The post shares the following quote from Pete Vossler:
People are insecure; give them confidence.
People want to feel special; compliment them.
People desire a better tomorrow; show them hope.
People need to be understood; listen to them.
People are selfish; speak to their needs first.
People are emotionally low; encourage them.
People want to be associated with success; help them win.
I think that all of these points are important but the last point about helping people win really stuck out to me. In reality, building relationships is about getting creating value for others. I doesn't have to come in the form of money. It can come in the form of feelings for instance.
When you create an online presence for your business, you are creating a platform to help a wider range of people be successful than you could be having just a local presence. There is a lot of power in that but we tend to take it for granted in today's day and age.
We take it for granted by not having an online presence at all by thinking that the web is over-saturated and that we can't provide anything new to the space. We take it for granted by not creating content on a regular basis or by failing to create new content at all.
There are several great examples of businesses interacting with their community and creating some positive results:
- Dogfish Head Brewery Craft Ales– (I always like to spot light a beer company doing it right.) They have built their business on giving their customers what they want. Sam Calagione, president and founder says this about using social media with his business: “Social media has leveled the playing field…We can have intimate conversations with customers.”
- Mashable had a recent article that talks about businesses using social media right. They give several examples of what companies are doing to engage their people.
- Houlihan's restaurant was recently featured in a recent edition of Fast Company for their efforts in using social media to increase profitability. The restaurant change went ahead and built their own social media outlet to communicate with their clients.
You don't have to do something exactly like the examples above but at the very least, they should give you some great ideas.
To be a good neighbor on the web, we have to be willing to create good content at a consistent level and not take our relationships for granted. It's also about going out and actively looking to create new relationships as well. We have to keep in mind that the reason our businesses have an online presence is to create value in the marketplace and help people win.
Is your online presence doing that?