Relationships are everything in your business. Without them, you don’t have a business. You have relationships with your customers. You have relationships with your referral sources. You have relationships with your stakeholders. You have relationships with your internal team. If you could optimize every one of these relationships with your community, don’t you think your business would grow ten fold? Of course, but in the digital world the problem comes when you ONLY focus on optimizing your digital media channels versus optimizing the relationships that exist inside of them.
By now you’ve probably heard at least 100 people tell you that you need to increase website traffic, Facebook likes, Twitter followers, LinkedIn connections, etc. These types of statistics are known as “Vanity Metrics”. These are metrics that don’t tell you ANYTHING about your relationship. Oh, and the so-called “Engagement statistics” don’t really cut it. They typically measure comments, shares, etc. What most companies fail miserably at measuring is the actual relationships within these channels. The people that actually care about you. The people whose lives would change if you or your brand didn’t exist. Think about that for a minute.
When you focus most of your time and money on optimizing our website and other channels, you lose track of the 5 new people you met last week that could help make a difference. They start to lose track of you. You become less relevant.
Oh, and just sending your email newsletter to them is not going to cut it. For example, we have several digital marketing agencies as referral sources to Social HubSite. The ultimate goal is to send and receive more referrals with them. The content we send them from our blog might spark their interest, but not their full attention. What sparks their full attention is when we post an extremely relevant update in our very own Social HubSite (private online community in this case) through the “Referral Sources” group.
The content we share in the referral group might contain videos that we record on how to identify a good prospect, marketing documents, events, etc. THIS IS A PRIME EXAMPLE OF EMPOWERING YOUR COMMUNITY. If we would have taken the same time and focused SOLELY on adjusting our page titles to match a slightly higher search phrase, we would extremely limit the number of referrals we get.
The key here is to not just look at your content marketing as creating masterpiece articles. You’ll be no different than your competitors, especially in 2014 where most marketing departments has employed some form of strategy like this. Don’t get me wrong, articles are a great way to demonstrate expertise, trust and value, but need some form of follow up to solidify the relationship. Otherwise, people say “Hey, great article”, but forget who the heck wrote it. That’s the missing piece of the puzzle.
In short, think about the groups of people surrounding your organization. What do they value? What interests them? What do they need to be truly “empowered”? How can you grow the community of people around your organization? Stop solely thinking about how do we optimize digital media channels (website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.). If one day Google comes out with a new algorithm called Monkey that moves you to page 2 or 3 for a search term, don’t be left with nothing.
I’m NOT saying don’t optimize your website properly, just don’t focus 100% of your time, attention and money behind it. At the end of the day you need relationships to meet business objectives. Focus on OPTIMIZING RELATIONSHIPS and you’ll have a business that sustains itself over the long haul.