Originally Posted on December 11, 2012 by Smarter Commerce

NEW YORK CITY, Social Media World Forum — Ted Rubin is the CMO of Collective Bias. Ted’s statement at #SMWF that “relationships are the new currency” was a big hit. Speaking to a few hundred marketing executives and strategists from around the world Ted discussed the importance of a brand’s customer relationship. Return on Relationship, or “ROR” is the value that is accrued by a person or brand due to nurturing a relationship.

“Facebook fans, retweets, traffic, video views, positive ratings and vibrant communities are not measurable financial assets—they aren’t reflected on the balance sheet and can’t be counted on an income statement—but that doesn’t mean they are valueless. Instead, these are leading indicators that a brand is doing something to create value that can lead to financial results in the future,” said Ted Rubin.

Collective Bias® is a content marketing company that drives retail sales through the coordinated creation of social media stories. Through Social Fabric®, Collective Bias connects shoppers with the brands and retailers shoppers use in their daily lives to drive conversations on a wide variety of social media platforms. Their stories build consumer engagement and brand loyalty, ultimately leading to sales conversion.

1. Ted, can you elaborate on relationships as currency? Why is this such an important idea?

Short and simple: if you are only focused on the money, you risk completely overlooking the people. Don’t make that mistake! If you don’t know who your people are, you might as well toss your marketing and prospecting money down the drain. It is not that complicated.

2. What are the biggest mistakes a brand can make pursuing “Return on Relationship?” 

Broadcasting: Blasting out sales messages rather than listening and engaging has got to be the number one relationship killer of all time. Bar none. People hate to be sold—especially on social channels, where their main objective is to talk, get opinions, relax and have fun, or find answers to pressing problems. When a brand spends the majority of its time broadcasting, it’s a clear message to followers that they’re not interested in real, two-way communication. Listening should be your first priority, followed by engagement. Don’t try to sell to people until you’ve earned their trust!

Turning social into direct marketing channel: Can you develop a relationship with a piece of direct mail? A TV commercial? A newspaper ad? An email blast? Of course not! Yet many brands treat social as an extension of their direct marketing efforts—mainly because that’s all they know. They’re used to handing off their marketing to an advertising agency and having them run with it so they can get on with their day. They think in terms of ROI formulas, but falter when it comes to measuring the effectiveness of one-on-one networking.  If that’s you, don’t feel too bad—it’s a habit that’s been drummed into you and hard to break. But you’ve got to break it! Adopt a whole new mindset around social, and think in terms of building relationships and an emotional connection to your brand, or you’ll always be frustrated with your results. Remember… Social Media drives engagement, engagement drives loyalty, and loyalty correlates directly to increased sales. Return on Relationship™ = ROI.

This goes back to the “Broadcasting” mistake I mentioned earlier. Think in terms of providing helpful content, fun ways to communicate, sharing information and asking questions. Leave the direct marketing stuff in traditional channels. Get a sense of who your audience is and give them what they’re looking for in your social communications, or you’ll get “un-followed” or ignored in a hurry.

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