This quote has taken on some special meaning for me today…

“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family. Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” ~Jane Howard

We all need one… Return on Relationship is there for everyone when they need it most!

We’ve all bought insurance policies before. We insure our cars, our houses, our health, our lives—even our vacations! Most of us never have to use the majority of insurance policies we buy, but we’re comforted by the fact that they’re there—waiting—if we ever have a crisis.

But did you know that the relationships you build in social circles can also act as a kind of insurance policy? Whether you realize it or not, you’re building “social cred” every day—and if you do it right, it will act as insurance that can pay off big time when you need it most.

Think of “Social Cred Insurance” like the cash value of a whole life policy. By paying your “social premiums” of authenticity, transparency and relationship building over time, you can bank quite a bit of advocacy and loyalty value that accrues with every payment. Developing that kind of brand advocacy can help you later on when you’re launching a new product, or have a PR crisis (such as a simple blunder or defective product), or in any number of scenarios where you’ll need folks in your corner. And this is insurance you will find yourself cashing in… no doubt. However, like a whole-life policy, your Social Cred Insurance won’t accrue any cash value unless you pay your premiums!

So how can brands, and people, build up this kind of insurance? It’s simple. Always think about adding value to the lives of your friends and followers whenever you interact in the social space. Communicate your value system to your social team, and make it a priority to always, Always, ALWAYS be thinking about helping, nurturing and educating. Go out of your way to do it. Be proactive and creative in thinking up new ways to help your customers and prospects get what they need, and make the promotional stuff secondary. The relationship building and connection you are building will be promotional in and of itself, and allow you to seamlessly integrate your message that drive sales.

Here’s another way to look at it… think of a close friend in your life—the kind of guy or gal who would give you the shirt off their back—the one who shows up to help without asking anything in return, always remembers your birthday, invites you over for dinner, offers a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on, etc. You can’t think of them without smiling, can you? Those warm thoughts are based on the trusting relationship built between you over time, and both of you know that should an emergency arise, you’ll both be there for each other.

That’s the kind of “relationship insurance” that brands, and people, can build in social media. By always being authentic and transparent in daily communications, doing for others without expectation of anything directly in return, and consistent in delivering value, you can build the kind of credibility and trust that turns followers into brand evangelists. Not only will they buy things from you and tell their friends, they’ll defend you and help you out when the need arises.

Every brand, every person, should work on developing those kinds of relationships, because there will come a time when you need to depend on them. So start building your Social Cred Insurance now—and don’t forget to pay your premiums! Always have a giving mindset, be sincere and helpful, and make sure your deeds back up your words. Do those things consistently and you’ll build relationships that are long-lasting and truly valuable. “Social Cred,” and the Social Insurance that goes along with it, are great examples of the value of emotional connection and Return on Relationship™.



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