A Return to Return on Relationship

A Return to Return in Relationship - #TwitterSmarter chat with Zen Yinger - May 28, 2020

When it comes to business and marketing, one term keeps coming up again and again. Return on Investment. Or ROI. This refers to the financial returns you get from your spending—whether it’s social media advertisements, events and webinars you host, or classes and workshops you run. Everything you spend energy and resources on needs to give you something in return.

Relationships, however, aren’t like that. At least, they shouldn’t be. When you make friends with someone in your neighborhood, you’re not expecting something from them in return. Just because you gave them tomato chutney from the abundance in your garden doesn’t mean they have to give you a loaf of bread. That’s what we wanted to talk about this week—relationships, not bread. How and why you should build genuine relationships on social media. And we invited Zen Yinger, a social media strategist and CEO of ZenSocial.

Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Zen Yinger
Topic: A Return to Return on Relationship
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: What is Return on Relationship and why do we need it?

It’s a play on ROI—Return on Investment. However, while ROI is a measure of financial gain from your investments, Return on Relationship—or RonR, as our guest put it—is a measure of how much returns you get from your relationships with friends, family, colleagues, and your society.

That doesn’t mean you engage with someone expecting something in return, though. That’s just immoral social behavior. Instead, make your conversations sincere, treat the other person with respect, and in the long-run, you’ll realize that your relationships are worth more than you imagined.

As our guest informed us, the term Return on Relationship was coined by social media strategist and the CMO of brand content creating app, Photofy, Ted Rubin. He first came up with the term as social media was exploding as a solid relationship building network and the term stuck.

As with ROI, Return on Relationship applies to business also. For example, every conversation you have with your customers, your potentials on social media, and prospects in real-life events will translate to business. The more transparent you are in your relationships, the more referrals and word of mouth marketing you’ll get.

As Jake mentioned, focussing on Return on Relationships will bring back focus on what social media was meant to be—social. The sole purpose of your relationship will be the relationship itself, and not a sale, a referral, or a social share. All of those will happen naturally.

Q2: How does social media, and especially Twitter, affect Return on Relationship?

Social channels, and Twitter in particular, are excellent for listening to your audience and keeping up with the latest community activities. Be your own sincere self, and you’ll have a good chance of making great connections.

The biggest challenge with social conversations nowadays, as our guest pointed out, is that a lot of businesses rely on sponsored content and promotions. And so, they no longer have genuine interactions. It’s come to the point where the more money you have to spend on social media, the easier it is for you to get engagement.

However, it’s vital to remember why we joined social media in the first place—to connect with real people, to make friends, to share, and to learn. And that’s exactly what we’re seeing during this pandemic. So many people have recognized the value of social interactions. And it’s become more important than ever, for as we all stay safe in quarantine, we’re missing hugs and coffee catch-ups and meeting friends and family. Social media is once again fulfilling our need for human connection.

If you’re wondering how to get involved in such meaningful conversations, Twitter chats are a great place to start, as Janette suggested. Whatever cause you care about, whatever industry you work in, whatever business practice that inspires you, there’s a chat for that. Find one and you’ll find your social media kin.

Q3: Why is it important to be more than just a service provider on social media?

There’re a ton of businesses out there that talk about themselves and what they’re doing to help customers on a daily basis. However, that’s not the only purpose of having a social media presence. Having a social account is a way to establish trust, build a community, and to define who you are as a brand. Over time, your social channels will become proof of who you are and how you stand out from the rest of the competition.

As our friend from OnePitch said, though you should focus on providing service, that’s not all you should do. Most people will come back only if you’re listening to your audience intently and consistently offering support.

Another of our chat regulars emphasized the importance of offering content that’s useful to your audience, ensuring you solve real problems, and offer personalized care.

Q4: How can you humanize your brand to authentically connect with your audience?

Make your social media interactions about people. See that you show your real personality. People want to do business and interact with other people. Instead of hiding behind the mask of your brand, make yourself the representative of the brand.

When you participate in Twitter chats and actively contribute to discussions, you’re showcasing your knowledge and that you’re also willing to hear and learn from others.

A great way to humanize the brand, as Jim suggested, is to use video replies. If you manage a brand’s social media handle, you can also sign off your tweets with your name. It’s an excellent way to show your audience who you are and to keep the interaction transparent. So many people choose brands just because they know who they’re talking to.

Smita made another interesting suggestion: if you’re the owner of a business, consider letting your employees take over your social account for a day or two. That way, you can show your audience more about your team, their personalities, and the variety they bring to the business. Of course, if you do this, make sure the content still follows the brand’s established tone and policies.

Q5: How have you benefited from Return on Relationship?

Our guest told us how after a long career, she had to take a break as a mother. However, when she returned, she had a hard time adjusting to all the changes that’d taken over the corporate game.

Thankfully, her connections from LinkedIn and Twitter were there to help her when she needed it the most. They recommended her for better opportunities and supported her as she reclaimed her career path. That’s an ideal example of Return on Relationships—because she prioritized those relationships, they did the same for her.

One of the biggest lessons to take away from Zen’s experience is that it takes the help of a lot of people to succeed on social media. Without a supportive community that believes in you and is willing to stand by your side, it’s hard to get any further.

Deb from Agorapulse is another great example of Return on Relationships. She said that the only reason she got her job as a community manager at Agorapulse is because of the relationships she managed to build over the years. And that’s the key point—you can’t build those relationships in a couple of days. It takes years, and several in most cases.

Q6: Which social network is proven to be ideal for building Return on Relationship?

Because Return on Relationship depends so much on real-time, two-way conversations, Twitter is obviously a great social channel for that. Not only do you get to interact with anyone in the world, you can also use it as a listening tool to keep up with your customers, your competitors, and well-wishers.

LinkedIn and Facebook do their part too—they’re good for following trends and current events, and even though they’re not as reciprocative and instantaneous as Twitter, they’re still valuable channels to keep an eye out for.

All that said, however, as Lance mentioned, you should also consider your goals, your social capacity, and current audience before choosing a platform to build relationships. After all, if more of your audience uses LinkedIn, you have to spend more time and energy there.

Q7: How can brands pivot in their social journey to reap the benefits of Return on Relationship?

It’s easy. As long as you understand that RonR is totally worth it.

Start by spending more time socializing on social media. Unfortunately, nowadays, most marketers and social media managers spend so much time analyzing data and keeping up with key performance indicators that they don’t have enough time to engage with each other.

Our guest suggested filtering out 10 people who influence you the most on social media and understanding what about them and their content makes them so attractive to you.

Then follow-up on their interactions, see how they engage with their audience in their conversations. Participate and offer your suggestions and you’ll gradually learn from them.

Felix gave us another idea to reap the benefits of relationship building. Just as you engage with people who inspire you, motivate your audience to engage by creating their own content. User-generated content is a great source of social proof and credibility. You can initiate it yourself with a simple shout out to your biggest fans and customers. This, in turn, encourages them to engage with you even more.

Q8: How can brands measure their Return on Relationship on social media?

It’s not as easy as counting the number of retweets or likes on your tweet. Relationship building on social media goes beyond quantitative transactions. They’re not based on immediate needs, but are, instead, based on how available you are for your community.

You won’t see the results right away, but if you keep focussing on developing relationships, over time, you’ll see your reach and business grow just through referrals and word of mouth marketing. You’ll sense it and then you’ll see it.

One way to trace this, as Sam said, is to keep an eye on repeat businesses. Or in other words, customers who return to buy from you not only because they liked your product or service, but also because they could resonate with you as a person.

To finish off, Zen quoted Ted Rubin, saying relationships are the new currency of our world. Nothing matters more, and that’s why you should invest in genuine relationships.

Well, folks, that’s all from me this week. Thanks so much for reading through and for more great insights from our chat with Zen, take a look at this Twitter Moment that Joana put together.

If you’ve got some time to spare next Thursday, join us for the #TwitterSmarter chat at 1pm ET.

Take care and stay safe, everyone.


About me, Narmadhaa:

I write all things—technical and marketing copy to fill the pocket; haiku and short stories to fill the soul. A social media enthusiast, I’m a member of the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and always happy to take on writing gigs.

Say hello: Personal blog | LinkedIn | Twitter

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