Although most of us figured out that popularity was overrated as soon as high school was over, now that we’re all hanging out on the social media campus, it may be time for a reminder.
A recent (paraphrased) Doonesbury cartoon made the point perfectly:
Teenage son: “Cool beans! I just hit 1,000 followers on Twitter!”
Dad: “Uh-huh. And which of these pals will help you move or loan you money?”
While the teenagers at my house share the son’s perspective, I tend to relate more to the dad’s perspective. Yes, a big group of friends and followers casts a great social glow, but would you invite any of these amigos to dinner, a movie, a study date? Heck, how many would even know where you live – let alone expend the energy to get there?
This view of relationships carries over to the business sphere. We’ve been talking a lot in this space about social media, and Ben Dillon recently posted about un-following hundreds of his Tweeps. Who, by the way, probably didn’t notice or care.
Why? Because they weren’t paying attention to begin with. They weren’t following Ben in the true sense of the word; they were simply along for the ride. It isn’t possible, even with the best intentions and latest tools, to actively follow and interact with hundreds of people.
My advice is to focus on the followers you can draw into your inner circle. If you’re a hospital, this means the people with whom you have the potential for a meaningful relationship. The folks who would trust you with their heart care or sick child, participate in your fundraisers, or choose to work for you.
I’m not recommending that you block followers, but that you focus on building authentic connections with people who can actually come over and do things with you. Building this core group starts with inviting them to do things that benefit you both.
Treat them to a free fitness assessment; tell them when the mobile mammogram van will be in their area; invite them to take a CPR class.
Make your invitation clear, concise and catchy. Here’s an example.
You’re offering something free and not asking for a big commitment. And, with pregnancy, you may be starting a relationship that could last for decades and extend to an entire family.
Next, be sure to link to a page on your site with a direct and simple call to action, like the one below. Too many times, I’ve seen linked pages with tons of text, but no clear way to get what’s offered.
Next, deliver. Make sure you follow-up quickly with something of value. Then, just like any friendship, keep it going. At this point, you’ve moved the conversation from Twitter to a more personal forum. There’s been a phone call or a mailing. You may want to invite them to attend a class or sign up for a newsletter.
These individuals have gone from being one of a cast of hundreds to potential BFFs – or “besties,” according to my daughter. Keep cultivating the relationship. Continue to use social media to develop new ones. Track the effectiveness of your invitations to learn which of them turned followers into lasting friends. Remember, popularity isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s all about the friends who come over and keep coming back.