Now, more than ever, it’s important to have strong allies on social networks.
A few years ago when social networks were relatively young, it was easier to stand out. Slap a “follow me on LinkedIn/Twitter/Facebook” at the bottom of your marketing emails and you were an instant innovator. Run a contest through you social networking profile and watch as your followers hang on your every word and click through to all of your offers.
However, when it comes to the Big 3 social networks (LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter), the low-hanging fruit for businesses has been plucked and the din created by the growing masses makes it hard to get your brand message heard. In order to make an impact and survive as a business in a social environment now, you MUST have allies who will help support your goals.
I’ve had the benefit of seeing firsthand how strong social allies can help you move your business forward. As an organization, we’ve also had the opportunity to be an ally to other companies. And, what I’ve learned through those experiences is that you have to understand the different types of allies available to you, what each can offer, and the qualities that separate a good ally from a great one.
Types of Social Allies
Earned. These are the allies who you’ve won organically through personal interaction during the course of your career or your corporation’s history. These may include current and former colleagues, your friends and family, and people in your industry who know your reputation and respect it.
Owned. These allies are your hired army, the people who champion your cause because you pay them to do so. This includes vendors who help you manage, monitor, and analyze your social presence.
Mutually Beneficial. A hybrid category that may include your “earned” allies, but can also include individuals and businesses that help you only because you can help them. There is a give and take and a quid pro quo aspect to these relationships, but they can be some the strongest and longest lasting in your arsenal. This may category may include your own employees who benefit by being associated with your brand, and at the same time can be some of your strongest brand champions.
Qualities of a Strong Ally
Trust. Aside from the closest allies in your earned bucket who you already trust implicitly (Hi, Mom and Dad!), trust should be among the top qualities you search for in a social ally. You have to know that they’ll have your back when supporting you in social environments.
Brand Alliance. Ask yourself if you would be comfortable introducing your ally to one of your most important clients. Do they represent your same core values and standards? This is especially important to consider when adding vendors to your “owned” team. Make sure their tactics for getting your message into the marketplace align with yours.
Adaptability. Social technologies are always evolving and in flux. A strong ally should keep pace with you in their ability to adapt to new trends and tools that will support your mutually goals. You don’t want to be traveling at a 100 mph while dragging an anchor.
So, who are your closest allies? Do they demonstrate the key qualities you need to bring your online social presence to the next level?