By Elaine de Valle, Hispanicize digital, @newschica
Among the highlights of the Hispanicize 2012 conference was a standing ballroom-only crowd reigned over by the King of Twitter himself. Ted Rubin’s famous energy and enthusiasm fueled his presentation as he told bloggers and social media managers and marketers to be themselves and forge real relationships via virtual avenues.
A leading social marketing strategist and the lead proponent of the Return on Relationship theory – which states that successful networking is based on an engaged group of loyal brand advocates — Rubin bounced from subject to subject during the hour-long session that mirrored his newsfeed.
“My head is like a Twitter feed. Stuff keeps streaming through it. You have to choose whether to bring me back to talk about something, or just let me keep going,” warned the Chief Social Marketing Officer for Collective Bias.
The crowd chose door number two almost entirely.
“Make your personal brand about building relationships and not about what can be billed,” he advised both the bloggers and corporate social media marketers. “Brands need to embrace criticism.”
He used Jet Blue, one of the event’s sponsors, as an example of how to do things right and told his personal story of being stuck on the tarmac trying to get to SXSW and getting real time answers from someone on the Jet Blue twitter stream. Rubin — who has more than 73,000 followers on twitter and will be making his 100,000th tweet within the next month — became a hero on the flight.
“Everybody loves information. The flight attendants didn’t have a clue. They were looking to me for information from me,” Rubin said, adding that the head of communications had flagged the flight (naturally) because it was headed to a social media conference. But they did things right because they provided answers instead of silence. “They couldn’t solve my problem, but they engaged me.”
He likened one’s virtual reputation to insurance. “Social credibility is the best insurance you can buy for yourself or your brand. Trust is built on interaction, consistency and being true to your word, authentic and open.”
Rubin gave the participants the five steps to successful ROR.
1. Listen. “Don’t just listen. Hear people. Respond with something that makes sense.”
2. Make it about them.
3. “How can I serve you?”
4. Aim for ongoing engagement
5. Know the people in your audience. “Communicate with people how they want. Don’t take someone from twitter and send them an email.”
“Think reputation, not ranking. Connection, not network. Loyalty, not celebrity,” he said. “It’s not what you do, it’s what people say about you. A brand is what you do. A reputation is what people talk about.”
He says that is where the return on relationship comes full circle. “Social media drives engagement. Engagement drives loyalty and loyalty drives increased sales. People want to know you. Relationships are the new currency. And just like muscles, the more you engage them, the stronger they are.”
Rubin warned social media marketers from getting too gimmicky. “It can’t be just promotional. Branding means people relate to who you are and what you do,” he said. “Social media is branding on steroids. “
He also said that people still need to remember to connect personally whenever possible. And he held his phone in the air. “Do you know what this can do? It can dial a number and you can talk to someone,” he said. “You can laugh and they can hear it. You don’t have to go lolol.”
He said that sometimes it was fun to get the reaction from the other end when he called and said, “Hello. This is your facebook friend, Ted.” And he challenged the audience to do it.
Sure, connect with thousands, he said. But don’t forget to connect one by one, too. Those connections also have a lasting impact. “Those people will talk about it and it spreads.”
After all, he said, building relationships was about building one’s reputation.
“Social is a facilitator of relationships. It is not the relationship itself,” Rubin said, telling the room – which was majority female – that women rule the profile pages.
“There is no social media without women. It ceases to exist immediately,” Rubin said. “Women share. Women talk to each other. Women listen. Men talk at each other.
“When I go to a store, the odds of me taking a picture of a shirt to see if I buy it or not…” he is stopped by roaring laughter. “I don’t want 10 opinions. You guys and bloggers are the power of social media.”