Picture of Hands in a circleThe conversations about ROI, the budgeting for social media, the formulas, excel sheets and numbers are everywhere all trying to do the same thing, put a dollar sign on what many of us in the social space are doing everyday. We are building relationships with our business clients. If we are talking about the social business world and how to use social media to maintain your customer relationships, then why are we using the term friendship?

The bonus of social media is that it is built on one of the core fundamentals of being human, the need for a social connection with other human beings. So when you read about how social media is based on humanization of the brand, what it really means is that being involved in social media means being connected to other humans. What does this social media friendship cost your company? Before you dive into the numbers and put a value to your efforts, you need to be comfortable with the philosophical costs. Let’s have a look at a few.

Patience
Just like any growing friendship, it takes time and patience to really understand where a person is coming from. This can mean that you need to spend a little more time just getting to know your clients. Answer questions, talk about the weather, just be patient and let the relationship evolve versus trying to force a friendship that just isn’t there.

Understanding
Everyone has different needs and struggles, so that means that you are going to need to understand that every person and business you connect with is going to be different. You’ll need to get used to not always seeing things through your eyes, but through your clients’ eyes. If you understand where they are coming from, it will help you to better build your relationship.

Mutual Respect
While the old saying of the “customer is always right” might be true, it’s important that everyone involved in a social relationship realizes both parties deserve respect. We are all out in the social space doing our jobs, but also being ourselves. Don’t forget that the avatar has a human mind behind it and taking the high road is always an option.

Where are you looking to grow? How have you struggled with building connections with your clients? How have you succeeded?

Genevieve Coates is a Community Manager at Radian6. She’s a data geek who loves to talk so feel free to shout to @genevievecoates.