PEW recently released the results of a new study titled “The Future of Online Socializing.” As I was reading the research it occurred me that social media is a terrific opportunity for businesses to succeed and build real relationships with their customers or a terrific opportunity for businesses to fail and build only a list of leads to try and exploit.
The research implies that people love social media because it helps them build positive social relationships. They measured whether or not people agree that the internet will mostly be a positive force on their social world. 85% surveyed feel like social media will be a positive force while only 14% disagreed. People want the relationships developed in social media to be a positive force.
This positive attitude toward social media needs to be front and center with businesses that choose to participate in social media interactions with people. Businesses have a tendency to be selfish when it comes to “relationships” with its customers and only care when there is something in it for them. Those one way “relationships” never go anywhere. When was the last time someone felt like “junk mail” was a positive force in their life? If businesses want to continue to be invited to the social media conversation, then be sure to actually build relationships in the social network with your customers and not just use social media friends as leads for sales. If you do built positive social networking relationship, you will have a strong network of people who will buy from you, and not just another list of unproductive leads.
As a business, ask yourself, “Am I participating to build positive social relationships with the people I interact with online?” Don’t answer, it is a rhetorical question.