What's Your Relationship Status?

Many of my corporate communications colleagues are out hitting the pavement, social media platforms and the PR circuit  to build a following, to build relationships for our brands, our organizations and our company's products. That's good, but how do we know if our efforts break through?

We often talk with clients about two main types of relationships, based on social science research:

  1. Exchange Relationships: Person A does something for Person B only because B has provided similar benefits in the past of likely will do so in the future. It's an exchange of something, for something of comparable value.
  2. Shared Relationships: Person A and Person B both act out of genuine concern for the welfare of the other and value the relationship without expecting anything in return other than a better relationship.

Exchange relationships are more common and more static. Shared relationships are more dynamic with on-going engagement and feedback. You likely have a mix of both types of relationships. Sometimes, you need to exchange before you share, or vice versa. The key is understanding the types and nature of your relationships and what you can say and do to move each toward action.

Get to the Action!

We use a scale to build momentum among audiences. In basic terms:

  1. Awareness: "I think I've maybe heard you have a new product," or "Oh yeah, I 'kinda, sorta' stumbled across your company's website once while I was looking for something else."
  2. Understanding: "You design fashion apps, and I know you have a new one coming out soon," or "I know what you've blogged about because I occasionally lurk there."
  3. Engagement: "I've talked with my friends about your product," or "I once posted a review on your latest new product. It was cool."
  4.  Action: "I bought your new product, and I really like it," or "I follow you on Twitter and comment regularly."

Engagement Trumps Numbers

Based on the type of relationship, the goal is to move people from Awareness to Action. It's good that you may have thousands who are peripherally aware of your company. Those numbers truly become powerful if you can convince them to go out and buy your product, or actively support your efforts to build a larger following, more and deeper relationships. While volume is an important output metric, the level of audience engagement is an outcome measure of success.

Where on the spectrum do your target audiences or key stakeholders fall? What things can you say and do to move each one closer to action?

The Michael Best Strategies team is grounded in culture that values being inquisitive, proactive and street smart. It's easy to work with us. We meet our deadlines, and we keep our promises.