Moving Beyond The Like To Build Likeable Relationships

By Michele Weisman Gone are the days when social media was about getting more Facebook likes and Twitter followers. With the emphasis on creating and sharing visual, captivating content, there is a real necessity for brands to interact with their customers in a meaningful way. The importance of knowing your community is greater than ever before.

As Dave Kerpen puts it, "Your social media content is competing with the pictures of my best friend's baby." Of course it is important for brands to have something unique to say, but it is also crucial to engage with your community. Brand loyalty is no longer defined by likes, points, miles, free trials, coupons, discounts, and rewards. Loyalty is about engaging with your fan base to provide value and empathy. In fact, about 50% of people who like brands on Facebook do so simply out of loyalty. Ultimately, it's about relationships, which social media has only amplified.

Here are three ways to move beyond the community count and build likeable relationships. 

1. Don't just think of them as "friends," but as your family. After you've built your community, it's important to foster trust. Social media allows for expressions of gratitude in business at a greater scale than ever. Personally thank your fans who give feedback, share your content, or compliment your products and services. Warby Parker sends personalized thank you video messages to their fans via Twitter. Always try to surprise and delight. Fans "like" you, but they will love you when you make it about them. You get by with a little help from your friends, but families are forever.

2. Sharing content isn't enough; tell meaningful stories. Stories create an emotional connection. When you meet someone for the first time, you usually tell them about yourself.  The same should go for companies. Find your company's story and bring it to life. Tell your humble beginnings or share stories about customers who have overcome obstacles. Your stories can easily be told in a tweet, a Vine, or an Instagram picture. These social stories will inspire your customers to share their own experiences.

3. Social Media is no longer just marketing's responsibility. The true power of social media exists beyond the marketing department. Social media gives every department--customer service, research and development, human resources, sales, C-Level, finance, and strategy--the opportunity to create, share, learn, collaborate, and solve problems at their fingertips. Is solving a customer complaint via Twitter considered marketing or customer service? Is asking for customer input on products a focus group or research and development? Social media is no longer a silo; it lives in all departments.

Social media is no longer simple, "build it and they will come." The businesses who listen, share great stories, respond, and are grateful will create long-lasting relationships with their communities.

What are your tips for building likeable relationships via social media?