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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Social Media – Building Relationships

How can social media become a tool for business? Although it has become part of the Sales Model, how often have you still heard that question raised?

Here's a brief look at two examples using Facebook to further develop the relationship with the customer – adding depth and creating a personal bond.

At the Weather Channel, Kelly Cass uses Facebook to keep in touch with her audience, answering questions about the weather (Why is it getting so cold so early this winter?), talking about the show (Tonight Kim and I have a whole bunch of interesting things for you.), offering her personal observations (I just love the snow!), as well as engaging in light banter (viewer: Kelly, you always look great! Kelly: Always???). She will even let folks know that she will not be able to keep in touch when she is doing a solo show – keeping them informed.

Years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Kelly Cass while visiting The Weather Channel (my client) – I found her to be warm and engaging – a real person who you'd like to have as a friend. The really cool thing about her Facebook writing is that she projects that same aura – like Kelly is a friend keeping you caught up on what she is doing and thinking. It is as though she is dropping you a personal note each time she posts to Facebook.

In Bethesda, Maryland there's a wonderful restaurant called Chef Tony's – great food and a welcoming atmosphere – like dropping over to a friend's home for a fine meal. Tony Marciante, the chef – proprietor, is always on Facebook with updates and uses the restaurant website to publish the daily menu, recipes, and beautiful pictures of food – among many things. Chef Tony (the person) will post to Facebook about upcoming activities (lobsterpalosia – Maine lobsters, comedy club night, Leadership Breakfast of Maryland, cooking classes), and what he is up to (baking deserts for next day, marinating meat for a special dish, wrapping up for the evening and heading home). He even uses Facebook posts to let folks know personally that Chef Tony's (the restaurant) will be closed and suggest a friend's place as an alternative – with a free glass of wine on Chef Tony.

With all this personal attention, does Chef Tony and his restaurant have a loyal following? Each Facebook piece feels like a personal message and it creates a relationship between the patron and the proprietor. This depth has a fascinating element to it - for many, they will drop a note to Chef Tony asking about menu suggestions or with entree preparation questions – like you might with a close friend. Of course Chef Tony responds with great dish choices and preparation instruction (for me he suggested chicken & prosciutto with a mushroom/white wine reduction sauce – to die for!) .

What's the common thread here? Do the Facebook posts create a stronger bond between the reader and the program or restaurant? Would you be more likely to watch Kelly and visit Chef Tony? This establishes another level to a traditional relationship. To makes it personal – between the reader and the writer. Even though the post may go to a thousand or more people, it feels like it is being sent just to you.

How do you see this 'personal' attention being used by other organizations to develop relationships and create community?


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