Why is Social Media Important? One Night Stands vs. Long Term Relationships

June 12, 2013 / by Kathryn Redman

dinner in bedroomDo you believe social media matters for your business? A lot of you don’t. How do I know this? Just two days ago I heard a dear friend who is an accomplished business woman refer to social media as “that place where people tell me what they are having for dinner….and I don’t want to know!” She went on to say that she saw very little value in social media for business, with the possible exception of LinkedIn for building a personal resume. While I agree that social media has been used for a lot of personal revelations that I would rather avoid, I absolutely disagree with this assessment. If you don’t know the answer to the question “why is social media important” for your business, I would like to help you take a step forward in answering this.

If you haven’t heard of this before, I really recommend that you go out and purchase a copy of a book called Pendulum by Roy H. Williams and Michael Drew, which was published late last year. Pendulum outlines an 80 year cycle over the last 3000 years in western civilization swinging back and forth between what they call a “Me” generation, and a “We” generation.

There is a ton in that book that is worth your time, but for the purposes of answering today’s “why is social media important for business” question, let me just point out a few things. Pendulum tells us based on an 80 year repeated cycle that as a western culture we started into a “We” cycle in 2003. From a marketing perspective here is why you care:

A Me Cycle focuses on “push” marketing – interruption, shove it in your face, shout out loud

A We Cycle focuses on “pull” marketing – finding out what you need and providing it

A Me Cycle focuses on transactional marketing – one time purchases, buy now, instant gratification

A We Cycle focuses on relational marketing – real, authentic, transparent

A Me Cycle is all about seduction marketing – you need what I have, even if you don’t

A We Cycle is all about intimacy in marketing – I care about you and your needs

So while it might sound a bit odd, a key difference between a “We” cycle and a “Me” cycle is like the difference between a one-night stand and a long term relationship.

Pause here and think about that for a moment.

With that in mind, Williams and Drew have used research published originally in 1971 by a guy named Desmond Morris on the 12 levels of intimacy in human relationships (from Intimate Behavior: A Zoologist’s Classic Study of Human Intimacy). These steps really outline the progression from “Who on earth are you?” to “I can’t live without you.” Sounds a bit like how you want your customers to think of your company, right? They have mapped these to business relationships and how they are developed over time using a variety of tools. It has been well documented that if a couple skips one or more steps in the progression, the odds of a long term relationship diminish dramatically. Intimacy in marketing would suggest the same is true in business relationships. While it may take a bit of thinking through, it isn’t much of a stretch to recognize that since business involves a person/people seeking relationship with a person/people, the correlation isn’t much of a stretch. While we only need the first five for today’s blog post, I figure you’ll kill me if I don’t give you the rest, so here they are:

12 Levels of Human Intimacy

12 Levels of Intimacy in Business

1. Eye to body

2. Eye to eye

3. Voice to voice

4. Hand to hand (or arm)

5. Arm to shoulder

6. Arm to waist, or back

7. Hand to face/head

8. Face to face

9. Hand to body

10. Mouth to body

11. Body to Body

12. Full Body Intimacy

1. First Impression a customer has of you

2. First two way contact

3. Customer reaching out for a two way conversation

4. You reach back to them

5. Customer more comfortable – willing to provide more info

6. Customer ready to engage at a small level – free trial, small $$ or time

7. Customer exchanges something of value with you – time or $$

8. Customer is ready to commit

9. Moved into a long term repeat relationship

10. Customer is ready to refer you – enough trust for a recommendation

11.  Customer has high trust – willing to vouch for you personally

12. Customer sees you as the expert in your niche – the trusted source

If you think in these terms, then you might begin to see that if you are not using social media avenues in your business, you are missing out on providing opportunities to address steps 2-5. An ad might be the first place someone notices your company, (eye to body). When they click on the ad or respond to the offer you have progressed to step 2 (eye to eye). Social media starts coming into play with step 3 – voice to voice. A customer might retweet something you posted on Twitter, comment on a Facebook post etc. In step 4 you might comment back to them, or email them to get in touch because of the interaction. By step 5 the customer’s level of comfort is increasing and they become willing to give you a bit more information, fill out a form that you have directed them to on your website etc.

Can you see why social media is important with these early steps in the building of intimacy? It is a place you can listen and interact with what your potential audience cares about. Social media at its core is about relationships. A place to build trust and encourage people to tell you what they are thinking and what they need.

In a “We” cycle community matters and contributing matters, which is why social media is such an important tool. It is no accident that Facebook started in 2004, near the beginning of the “We” cycle, and became a household word within just a few short years of its launch.

This concept of relationship marketing isn’t going away anytime soon (we won’t head back into a “Me” cycle until 2043 assuming the 80 year cycle is correct), so if you have been used to doing push marketing and telling people they can’t live without you, it is time to adjust. In a “We” cycle it isn’t about you, it’s about your customer. It isn’t about “aren’t we great, look at us” it’s about “what do you need and how can we help.” Discovering the answer to that question requires listening and interaction. Where better to do that than by using social media tools to have the conversation? Personally I’m very fond of the “We” cycle so I’m glad I get to be a marketer at this time in history.

Have I helped give you an answer or some perspective on the question “why is social media important”? Ready to get in the game but unsure how? Download our “Really, Really Helpful Guide for Facebook Business”. It isn’t everything, but it’s a start! Let us know if we can help you. We value your feedback and possibly developing a business relationship with you in the future.


Topics: small business, Social Media

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