You spy each other across a crowded twitter chat and it’s magic right from the start. There, in your Twitter feed is the brand that you’ve been dying to talk to. You check your twitter handle, make sure it’s looking just right, then head their way to tell them a thing or two about yourself. It’s a good relationship, you laugh, share some smiles and talk about what’s really important to you. Then it feels like they are growing distant. They never tweet anymore and you feel like they’re checking out all those new follow fridays. It may seem like the perfect time to air all of your grievances toward that brand out of frustration, but keep in mind that even a brand has a person behind that corporate logo. As brand ambassadors many social media managers, community managers and employees often struggle with wanting to be there for their clients while trying to deal with frustration sometimes directed their way. Even corporate logos have a heart and sometimes building a positive social media experience for all is much like the foundations of a good relationship. Today, let’s do a little couples therapy on the brand-consumer relationship to talk about what’s needed to make the relationship a success.

Getting to Know Each Other
When you are first starting to get to know someone you need to go on a few dates and learn their habits. As a corporate brand we need to make sure that we are trying to connect to people on a one to one level, asking them those initial questions. There are some great articles out there about how we can accomplish this by humanizing our brand and growing that relationship. If you need some places to check out, give a read to Brian Solis, Jay Baer, or Jason Falls.

As a consumer, we need to be up front and honest about what we expect. If you expect answers within 10 minutes, then tell your brand that. It’s that information that the people behind the brand logo can use to adjust their social strategy to your needs. In return, we brands need to answer back with honesty so that all the cards are on the table and no one feels like there’s a hidden motive in the tweets.

Build the Respect
Once you’ve gotten to know each other, before you start building to that next level you need to be able to respect each other. Respect is a two-way street. Brands need to respect their consumers’ needs just like consumers need to respect that their brands are trying to work for them. If we completed the honesty phase well, we probably have a strong basis for how each other likes to be treated. Take that knowledge and grow with it, by adding the please & thank you’s, giving a heads up when there are issues and appreciating the time each puts into the conversations.

Live in the Trust
Trust is something that can’t be earned overnight. There is no formula or smiley avatar that will ever make someone trust you right away. It takes time and hard work. If as brands we’ve taken the time to understand our consumers and we respect their voices and opinions we’ll be on the right path towards trusting that they are going to be there for us when other people ask what they think of us. As consumers, by respecting what our brands can and cannot do for us we’re going to be able to trust in them when we have issues or ideas that we want to be heard. Once you are in the trust phase it’s less about the “If” someone will respond and more about the “When”. It’s less about the “If” your issue will be fixed and more about the “How”. Once we’re at this phase we all need to work hard to keep getting to know each other, respecting each other and going deeper with that brand-consumer trust.

Enjoy the Experience
One of the best parts of a relationship built on respect and trust is getting to enjoy the benefits it brings. Once you’ve taken the time to get to know each other, take a step back and enjoy the experience of communicating. Brands, ask your main advocates who you trust to participate in special programs. Get their feedback, and experience what open communication can bring. Consumers, go to your brands and voice those new ideas and opinions. Help them to further understand your experience so that they can see things from your eyes.

By trusting and respecting your brand and consumers, you’re bound to build a long term relationship that won’t be broken down easily. Just get out there and remember that behind every avatar, consumer or brand, is a living breathing person with a heart ready to share social media experience.

What ways are you engaging with your brand? How are you respecting each other on a day to day basis? What does it take for you as a consumer to trust a brand?