How to Build Strong Business Relationships Through Social Media

In the early days of social media marketing, the goal was tangible: get more followers. Twitter, Facebook, it didn’t matter. If you were the business with the most followers/likes/friends, you were “winning” the social media game.

With time, we’ve gained more knowledge (and more tools) to be able to analyze this relationship more closely. And while follower count isn’t an insignificant number, it’s actually not a great indicator of an effective social media presence. Whether you’re aiming to reach consumers or other businesses, people are drawn to authenticity. What this means in a literal sense is cultivating a presence that is evocative of your brand and mission. This draws in your target audience and leads to sales.

Social media is a powerful tool that’s not leaving anytime soon. Creating meaningful relationships is just the beginning when it comes to building strong business relationships; here are some more tips, ideas, and recommendations from Entrepreneur.

1.  Be Genuine
It all starts here. When you’re working on building a follower base, interact with the people and make them feel welcome, understood and heard. This means listening and responding to the people in your audience. Interaction can also boost your visibility on some networks...bonus!

2. Find Industry Influencers
These might be other businesses or they might be individuals. Influencers work hard to cultivate relationships and maintain their position as a leader within their niche. Look to them as an example of great campaigns that leverage their influencers, they will only serve as an excellent resource as well as an example of what works.

3. Join Online Conversations
Remember the power outage at the Super Bowl a few years ago? And Oreo’s brilliant tweet?  That tweet was months in the making (part of the larger strategy for Oreo’s marketing - see the next tip for more). Timing is everything in marketing, and social media, with its 24-hour cycle, is practically writing the book on timely messaging. Find tweetups or meetups in your area of interest, or live tweet popular events that are relevant (like a TV awards show, sports or the election).

4. Develop a Strategy
There’s a (hopefully shrinking) misconception that social media should be either off-the-cuff informal or so professional that it can be stuffy and impersonal. Form a strategy that meets in the middle, so there’s some level of professionalism but is  interesting enough for others to *want* to follow you. Scheduling posts is a great timesaver, and it also helps build business relationships strategically by reinforcing core messaging. Just don’t forget to imbue your timelines with some personality and spontaneity from time to time.

5. Share Meaningful Pieces of Information
Most people choose to follow a brand or organization because they have something to gain from doing so. Most of the time it’s to win a promotion; some of the time it’s a genuine interest in the content.. Aim to be the latter.  Yes, your circles know you have a new product you’d love to demo for them. But they might find extra value in blog posts or industry news.Doing this will help ensure that you have the *right* followers--interested people who will amplify your messages and help you build your own reputation as an influencer.

Investing time in social media should be a no-brainer for most businesses at this day and age. Investing in the right ways takes a little more effort, but it’s worth it to build those business relationships.