In part 1 of The Three Ideals For Social Marketing Success I mentioned that success in social media boils down to three ideals, they are:
- The Development Of Relationships,
- The Creation Of High Touch, Emotion Based Connections, and
- Customer Enchantment (think customer service to the Nth degree).
In this post, part 2 of 3, we will be exploring the importance of creating high touch, emotion based connections within your online community. Keep in mind that the goal of social marketing is to influence word-of-mouth and create brand loyalty, in other words we want to create brand advocates; customers, that create other customers.
In order for that to happen though you must work to create three types of emotional based connections, they are:
- Employee - Community
- Employee - Employee
- Community - Community
Most of the time social media is used only to create a connection between the dealership and it's community members, when in reality that connection must between the employees of the dealership and the community. The reason is simple: it's nearly impossible to form an emotional based connection between a non-living entity, such as a dealership, and the greater community. I know that last sentence may have come across a little weird but too many dealerships have an unknown person (at least to your online community) in charge of their Facebook page, as an example, and as such they are missing out on the influential bond that is created by being high touch.
When it comes to your customers, I want you to always think in terms of high touch, which isn't necessarily high tech. In fact, I want you to evaluate any technological advancement that may come along by asking yourself, will this help me stay in touch with more of my customers or will it just look that way by mimicking high touch? Be careful here because sometimes they look the same.
With the advancement of technology, and the onset of social networks in particular, it may be easier to connect with your customers and your online community as a whole, but those connections usually lack the quality necessary to create the type of relationship with people that influences word-of-mouth. So, you must augment what you do online by being more human, by creating as much you-me time as possible. What I mean by that is instead of spending all your time conversing with the community as a whole spend time getting to know the individuals as well.
Here as some other high touch ideas:
- Have Facebook appreciate days where you give away free oil changes or invite them to the dealership for a meet-up with music, food and games.
- As time progresses you will notice certain members of the community are engaging you more consistently than the others, call them, ask their opinions on an upcoming event.
- As a salesperson, instead of just sending out a birthday card, they can send out a short 30 second video wishing their customers a happy birthday. I'm not talking about creating the video once and sending that out each time, no, I'm talking about an individual video that uses the customer's name within the context of the video.
- Empower your employees to be human and connect on a personal level. This requires a level of trust but with the proper training and the right people you should have nothing to worry about.
- Care. That's right, care. Do whatever you can to show compassion towards your customers, treat them as people, not a transaction. Help out the community, become one of us instead of being just one of them.
Too many dealerships are afraid to trust their employees to be human, they would much rather be hands off and let technology help them connect in a sterile, but in their eyes, more efficient, manner. Just take a look at all these so-called loyalty programs out there, they use cards and point systems to offer something free after a certain amount of money is spent at the dealership. What is that really doing? It's creating a hands-off approach that may be efficient, but where is the human element? Where is the high touch? If you truly want to create brand loyalty then go high touch.
Emotional Based Connections
Connect around an emotion. Are you married? If so, is the person you are married to the only person you've ever dated? Odds are the answer is no. So what caused you to have the type of connection with your spouse that lead to marriage? The answer is emotion, because without an emotional based connection the relationship is ultimately doomed to fail. The same holds true for the relationship that you're creating with both your customers and your online community.
I've said it before, it's almost impossible to create a connection between a business and their community if the only thing they have to connect around is the business itself. Instead, focus on something that the community is passionate about, such as their children's education, sports, or even a local cause. For instance, Metro Honda of Union County put up $5,000 for area schools, which they had to compete for. In all, there were about 40 schools involved, as well as thousands of people from the local community. Because Metro Honda connected with something that was emotional based, their children's education, the bond created between the people of the dealerships and the greater community of Union County has lasted, and will continue to last, long after the Union County School Pride Project announced the winning school.
Your day to day interactions with your community should be emotional based as well. Ask questions that illicit an emotional response or bring up a fond memory such as the question, "What is your fondest childhood memory?" I've had so many great conversations around that one question alone, here are some other emotional fused questions to ask:
- When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
- How do you feel when your child comes home with an A on a test?
- If you could do one thing without the worry of failure what would it be?
- If you were granted one wish that had to be used on a complete stranger, what would that wish be?
- What makes you jump up and scream for joy?
Of course there are thousands of other questions you can ask to start an emotion based conversation, but the idea behind it is to make people feel good about conversing with you. Don't just stop there, questions that bring up moral dilemmas are good questions to ask as well, questions such as "Would you lie under oath to protect a friend you knew was innocent but couldn't prove?" Of course you have to be careful with these types of questions but the depth of conversation that happens surrounding them is nothing short of magical! Remember, if you want to elicit emotions then you have to hold a conversation. Don't just throw out a question for people to answer, ask more questions around their answers, probe. For instance, using the above question you can ask, after a few dozen or so people have answered, what if it was your spouse, not a friend? Well... would you?