Anyone that knows me will tell you if asked, that my favorite movie of all time is Lord of The Rings.  I read the book 10 times (does that make me crazy?) and every time I did I was transported back to Middle Earth much to my delight and wonder.

The basis for all marketing success in my opinion is the creation and ongoing development of lasting relationships, just like the friendship and trust formed in the fellowship of the ring.

I coined the phrase “The secret to becoming great at Social Media is to become great at being social” click to tweet.

What does this mean exactly?  Well to illustrate this is for you, I want you to honestly review how you interact with any new followers you get on Twitter.  Do you direct message everyone who follows you personally, and I am not talking about using those false and truly horrible auto responders, but actually type back a genuine thank you to that person for taking the time to follow you?
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I never did until I heard an interview between the excellent Michael Stelzner and the genius that is Gary Vaynerchuk on the must listen to Social Media Examiner Podcast.

In this interview Gary relayed (I am paraphrasing because the brain cells are not what they were) how he saw all these very big named influencers and social media gurus, who had thousands of followers and who all gave out advice that companies and people need to ensure they are interacting and responding personally to their followers, customers etc, yet it appeared that some of them did not practice what they preached.  Whereas on the flip side Gary made it his business to thank every new twitter follower for choosing to follow what he does, and he actively made it his business to answer every email.

SEE ALSO: Top 5 Mistakes Not To Make On LinkedIn

Anyway, do you know what happened when I took on board what Gary said?  The amount of interactions, new followers and most importantly new relationships, that I have created on Twitter alone has been fantastic.  The opportunity to write on this blog came from Mohammed sending me a message, and then me taking the time to develop a very positive conversation on Twitter out of which this opportunity arise (thank you again Mohammed).

So, if you do nothing else after you have read this post, look at the social media channels you are on, and seriously critique are you really interacting, connecting, communicating and really been social with people in a meaningful way?

OK back to the Lord of The Rings.  Now you are probably wondering where am I going with this blog post with my Lord of The Rings reference, but the key in my opinion to becoming a Super Hero in social media lies in this acronym using the first letter from the words that make up the title of the movie.  LOTR.

List

L is for list.  These are your customers, your followers, your supporters and your target audience.  Whether it is social media, direct marketing, email etc, having a list of people that support you, believe in you, buy from you and advocate for you, is central to all business success.  What is the point of been active on various social media channels, sharing great content and driving people to your website, if all the time you are not capturing at least an email of these people who want to engage with you, listen to what you have to say and ultimately buy from you so that you in turn can communicate and reach out to them directly.

Therefore, at every opportunity you must make it easy for people to be able to sign up for your blog updates, and always look to capture key details about them when they go to interact on your website to download an ebook or request a quote. By building a list of people interested in your message you now have the building blocks for creating real long term relationships that will be mutually beneficial to you both.

Offer

The offer is the central core reason and that one thing that hooks people into you and your brand.  In social media blatant self promotion of your products and constantly bombarding your audience with repetitive sales messages is the perfect way to alienate you and your business from your audience.

In social media you have to be seen as useful, inciteful, helpful and trusted.  Providing targeted content in the form of blogs, ebooks, white papers, infographics, slideshare presentations, video and audio tutorials etc will build trust and rapport with your audience as you are offering solutions and answers to their problems with only the request of their email as payment.

Once you build up a trusted following, you can then begin to expand your offer into products, but once again these must be seen to have a definite benefit in the eyes of your audience.

Timing

Social Media is constantly changing but your target audience still has the same needs and wants.  Review your analytics to see when certain content and products seem to spike and increase uptake.

Engage and communicate with your customers and your email list as to whether certain times of the year are particularly challenging for them, and then plan to have online solutions to be offered during these periods.

By looking at this it may allow you strategically map out what products, solutions and engagement you need to be doing at certain times of the year.  For example if you are a florist your strategy should have a definite timed objective around valentines and maybe at certain months there is a spike in the number of weddings, once again content and offers should be aligned around these critical periods.

Relevance

In my opinion this is the key one.  If you are not deemed relevant by your audience, your online presence will soon become a ghost town.  People look for answers on the web each day to questions and problems they have.  If you provide content that is relevant and answers these questions you will soon be seen as a thought leader and the place to go for information.

It is also critical that you employ relevance across your media strategy and ensure that you are being very detailed in the level of information you are capturing about your customers.

For example, if we take again the florist business and they have some ebooks on their site such as a guide to pick best flowers for your wedding depending on the season or how to look after your bonsai plant.

By capturing the name and email of those people who download these ebooks, further relevant content can then be promoted and emailed to them.  For example if I download the wedding bouquet guide, you now know I am interested in this, so if I got an email about various wedding bouquet services or packages that you the florist offers,  the chances I may be interested is potentially very high.

The secret to staying relevant is to know who your audience is, what do they need, where do they hang out online and what topics do they actively discuss and engage with.  Once you know this you can then ensure your information has the highest degree of relevance from an information point of view so that your audience will be drawn to consume it, share and come back to you for more.

I will leave you with a question.  Are you practicing and applying LOTR?  If you are let me know how you are getting on and what other things do you think should be added?

About the Author: This is a guest post by Phillip Twyford. Follow him on Twitter @PTwyford to learn about Digital Marketing.