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While I can name several big brands that are killing it on Twitter for relationship building and engagement, I don’t think I’ve actually seen one that’s getting Facebook right. Sure, they invest quite a bit in making their business pages look great—they might even have a powerful content strategy for posting and curating things their audience finds valuable, and an ad budget to boot! But the one thing that all brands could be doing better on Facebook has nothing to do with cranking out more content or spending more money on ads—it’s developing a one-on-one strategy.

We’re Lazy Marketers

In my new book, How to Look People in the Eye Digitally, I talk a bit about how lazy we’ve become as marketers. We want to get in front of a zillion people. We want to send them a bazillion messages. We feel pressured to publish lots of content. We want to do it all NOW. But we’ve lost touch with how to listen to people—how to watch them when they’re talking to us. People on social channels have become data points instead of human beings, and we spend way too much time trying to get something from them.

On Facebook we measure all those things we want to get from our audience whether it’s likes, shares comments or clicks, but we miss the most important part—the ability to look into the life of a person and see what they’re really about, and open up a one-on-one dialogue.

Granted, it’s a little easier on platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn, where everyone that’s connected can see the other person’s profile and browse their posts. But not everyone’s on Twitter or LinkedIn. If your audience primarily hangs out on Facebook, that’s where they want to converse with you. You need to find ways to get to know them there.

Time to Get Personal

I have a personal profile on Facebook, and I use it to get to know people. If you have a brand page, that’s great—but someone on your staff needs to also leverage their personal page to “friend” members of your audience. This is a must, because watching a person’s profile is the best way to find out what makes them tick, and to start up human-to-human conversations that build trust and loyalty.

Use it to reach out to people who have commented on a post or have sent a private message to you. Check out their “about” section, their photo albums, the places they’ve been—and delve into their timeline to see what they like to share. Get a sense of them as a person.

Whether you’re a CEO or a Customer Experience Manager, this exercise is invaluable. It reveals so much more about a person than you can glean from an email, message or phone call. Even from a purely informational perspective it’s a goldmine, but don’t stop there. Use what you learn to be more proactive at human business. Here are just a few ways you can leverage this knowledge:

  • Research for product launch: Pure listening helps build stronger buyer personas, which helps you design a better product or service.
  • Survey customers to get feedback: Personally reaching out to get honest feedback makes people feel valued. It’s priceless!
  • Give better customer service: People just want to be heard, and have their concerns validated by another human being. If they reach out to you on Facebook—answer them there—and give it a human face.
  • Nurture your best advocates: The first step in developing an advocacy program is to reach out to each person who supports you. Make it personal. Let them know you appreciate them as an individual.
  • Get to know new business friends: Connecting on Facebook with people you’ve just met in person or at an event is a great way to get to know them quickly and strengthen your professional relationship.

Once you’ve found out more about these people, take it to the next level. Keep track of them in Friend Lists. Like their posts. Comment on them. Share them. Ask questions or just say thanks. Once you’re friends, Facebook’s video cards feature is a great way to send a personalized message of appreciation with the punch of a visual component.

In fact, going this extra mile to get to know your customers, vendors and others on Facebook can be a unique differentiator for you, simply because most brands aren’t doing it. Whether you’re a start-up restaurant owner like guys in the video below, or the head of a seasoned company looking for a way to stand out from the crowd, think about how you can turn connection into something more. Looking for ice breakers makes you more humanly engaging, and people will respond.

These guys are definitely on the right track. Their passion is infectious, they’re warm and personable, and they’re excited about developing their “uniqueness.” If they can translate that into their social conversations and go the extra mile to get to know their followers on Facebook, it will go a long way towards building social advocacy—word of mouth on steroids.

Most brands aren’t doing this, so you’ll stand out if you put it into practice. This might mean dedicating some staff to the process, or earmarking a certain amount of time to it yourself. However, the rewards of deeper connection will soon become evident in better insight, more trust, improved brand perception in the marketplace and stronger relationships. #RonR

*This post was written in partnership with Progressive Insurance. I have been compensated, but the thoughts and ideas are my own. For additional small business tips, check out Progressive’s Small Business Big Dreams program.


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