Break Through the web Noise With ‘Likes’

How will you attract customers in a crowded online market? Here’s how reciprocal liking might help generate loyalty in seven simple actions.

The idea of mutual "likes" dates back way beyond the launch of Facebook.

"Reciprocity of liking is an integral principle of attraction," based on the Encyclopedia of Human Relations. "Interdependence theory," the entry explains, "predicts that people will like people who have whom we’ve … gratifying interactions."

What’s new — also to marketers, what’s revolutionary — is that the cultural truism of reciprocal liking extends beyond interpersonal relationships into business relationships aswell. Nowadays and media environment, people expect businesses they prefer to like them back or, better still, touch base and like them first. They expect businesses never to just talk, but listen and converse. They expect caring and connection. They expect relationships first, and purchases second.

Certain requirements of reciprocal liking

Here is the dawning of the era of CUSTOMER SUPPORT 2.0.

"We’re in the very beginning of the humanization of business," Gary Vaynerchuk explained throughout a packed gathering at Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon, where he stopped on a recently available tour for his publication "The MANY THANKS Economy." "Brands that learn how to be human could be the ones customers get in touch with. The ones that care the most and follow-up the best could be the ones that break through. Human touch matters."

Fortunately, social media makes human touch scalable for businesses of any size. Here’s the best way to show your visitors that you "like" them — and encourage them to "like" you, too.

1. Care "Ironically, the winners of tomorrow could be the ones who become it’s 1920," Vaynerchuk says, recalling a period when every shopkeeper knew each customer’s personality, wants and needs. THE WEB makes that same degree of knowledge possible again, despite having the most far-flung clientele.

Search to understand about your visitors. Search to see what folks say about your brand, product, business category or competitors. Customize results by searching news or blogs. Search review sites. Head to search.twitter.com to understand what’s being said about you in tweets. Stick to top of information by establishing alerts, directing leads to a one-stop aggregator like Google Reader.

2. Connect When your searches result in people who are thinking about your business or category, touch base. Follow those who discuss your business or interests on Twitter. Join the groups they join on LinkedIn. Just like the pages they like on Facebook. Enter their social arenas to work the right path to their circle of trust and acceptance.

3. Listen Traditional marketers seem lead-footed because they’re pushing out scripted messages and one-way communications rather than getting together with their audiences. New rule: Today’s customers want you to pay attention, respond and listen even more. Commend guidelines. Thank people for helpful comments. Answer questions. Show you’re tuned in, interested, authentic.

4. Respond and engage "It’s unacceptable to let people discuss your brand without your engagement," Vaynerchuk says. React to conversations about your business, brand or category. Address concerns, post solutions, explain how you have or will fix problems. Be prompt and helpful.

Don’t run and hide. Don’t talk legalese or corporate jargon. Don’t sell. Don’t even leave your URL unless you’re sharing a web link to relevant information. Your social identity will inform them who you are. Socialize before you make sales. As Vaynerchuk says, "Become a service, not really a merchant."

5. Share Generate your own posts and tweets, but remember that on social media sites, sharing is a sincere type of flattery — and an instant path to relationships. Repost. Retweet. Reply. Then do everything over again.

6. Trust Trust your employees to advance your brand through their networks. Trust your visitors to enhance your Website with their comments. Scaling social relationship development is time-consuming. If you want to, redirect some common marketing dollars to your time and effort — but regardless of what, share your goals together with your staff and empower them to advance your message through their social interactions.

7. Thank Thank in tweets. Thank with gifts. Thank by firmly taking time to care. Thank by delivering products that exceed expectations.

Caring begets caring, leads to affection, and develops that age-old reciprocal liking that seals loyalty.

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