[I have been compensated by MasterCard to share my thoughts about how small business owners can use social media effectively.]

Brand Loyalty

It’s a funny thing how often humans share emotions only when they feel it will be returned. Everyone remembers our teen years when the worst possible social disaster was to like someone and not be liked in return. We’re trained to be defensive by nature and avoid putting our feelings on the line if we think the other side won’t care. What’s true of personal relationships is just as true in consumer loyalty toward brands. We’d hate to like a brand or business more than they like us. We’d hate to recommend a brand that doesn’t demonstrate it values us as customers.

Be proactive

The brand, and especially the small business owner, has more incentive to be liked than the customer…success and perhaps survival is on the line. There’s a powerful need to be proactive about creating the relationship.

Don’t wait for customers/prospects to like you:

There’s no lazy way out of this, folks. If you want the eyes and ears of consumers focused on you, then develop a “giver’s gain” philosophy. Developing fruitful relationships in social channels, or anywhere else for that matter, requires the willingness to give before you receive and continue giving throughout.

When our intent is right and our actions aren’t self-serving, we have the opportunity to inspire people to like us. With so much noise in the marketplace and plenty of murky intent, brands, and small business owners, who take this approach, will be noticeably different from their competitors.

There’s no faking it

A word of caution…our customers and prospects have finely tuned antennae when it comes to spotting our intent. There’s a part of the brain known as the amygdala that does a better job of sensing danger (and sincerity) than the reasoning part. It creates our emotional reaction to circumstances and tells us if we can trust what we hear and see. You can’t gain a customer’s confidence and be liked unless you can first get past their instinctive feelings about your intent.

So why wait? There’s a world of customers and prospects that would be happy to like and advocate for your brand if you’ll just open up to taking the first step. Here’s how to do that:

–       Get to know your customers/prospects by actively listening to their needs in social channels.

–       Reach out to others without waiting for them to “Like” you first.

–       Contribute to conversations where you can provide value (not a sales pitch).

–       Always be thinking of ways to help others solve problems.

–       Introduce people when appropriate without expectation of anything in return.

–       Be genuine in your responses and outreach.

–       Don’t expect reciprocation, but always strive to give it when someone reaches out to you.

Social Media, when done right, takes lots of time and effort just like managing expense reports, booking travel, and ordering supplies… MasterCard Business Network, can help make it all easier for you.

Those who take themselves out of the equation and focus on the needs of others can expect to get a better Return on Relationship.

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