Do you want to develop relationships that will lead to business?

Are you wondering how you can use social media to build valuable connections?

To learn about the importance of relationships in business, I interview Ted Rubin for this episode of the Social Media Marketing podcast.

More About This Show

Social Media Marketing Podcast w/ Michael Stelzner

The Social Media Marketing podcast is a show from Social Media Examiner.

It’s designed to help busy marketers and business owners discover what works with social media marketing.

The show format is on-demand talk radio (also known as podcasting).

In this episode, I interview Ted Rubin, co-author of Return on Relationship. He’s also the former chief social marketing officer for Collective Bias and OpenSky. Prior to that, Ted was the CMO for e.l.f. Cosmetics.

Ted shares the best ways to start to grow your online connections via social media.

You’ll learn what you need to include in your profile and why return on relationship is the most important thing for a business or brand.

Share your feedback, read the show notes and get the links mentioned in this episode below!

Listen Now

You can also subscribe via iTunes, RSS, Stitcher or Blackberry.

Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:

Relationship Marketing

Recently I attended New Media Expo (NMX) in Las Vegas, where I was not only embraced by fellow podcasters, I was overwhelmed by the number of people who came up to me to thank me for this show. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you.

Since I had a mission for this conference, I didn’t announce that I would be attending. My hope is that you will be inspired by the story of why I did this, and that you will try it for yourself.

How to build relationships in person, that often start online

In my second book, Launch, I talk about the power of other people. I coined the phrase “Elevation Principle,” which consists of great content plus other people minus marketing messages equals growth.

For podcasters, the “other people” include listeners—a segment of whom I call “power users,” or people with extreme influence. Without them, it’s really hard to grow your business.

I went to NMX with two purposes. I wanted to build relationships with the podcasting community and the parenting community, since I’m a newbie in both of these spaces.

nmx fellow podcasters

New Media Expo was a great event to connect with fellow podcasters.

You’ll discover why I only attended a few sessions, and made it a priority to hang around at the end of each session.

One of the best places to meet the speakers is out in the halls, or where the speakers gather to network with each other. They don’t seem to attend any sessions other than their own. It’s an opportunity to have amazing conversations with influential people.

You’ll hear the types of questions I asked to get people engaged, which can develop into real relationships. This is one of the secrets to the success of my business, and it can be for you too.

My take-home lesson is to get involved in real life through face-to-face encounters. One of the best places to do this is at a conference. Our upcoming conference, Social Media Marketing World, is a great place to start.

Are relationships still important AND achievable with social media?

Ted Rubin likes to say that “relationships are the new currency.” With all of the different social media channels available, you can reach the world 24/7, without ever leaving your home. It used to be that you had to wait until you were at a company meeting or an event to meet people.

The problem today is that when people click your name or check a box to follow you, they immediately think they have a real relationship with you or your brand.

like following buttons

Just by clicking like, people think that they have a real relationship with you.

A lot of brands believe that they need to get as many likes and followers as possible so they can broadcast to them. It’s not about broadcasting, though—it’s about building relationships.

Listen to the show to find out why building a relationship online is no different to a regular relationship offline.

How to make people feel like you’re giving them your full attention with social media

Ted says that you have to start with what he calls “looking people in the eye digitally.” An easy way to do this is to look at their profile and learn something about them.

He often quotes Dale Carnegie‘s book, How to Win Friends & Influence People, as one of the best social media books ever written.

how to win friends and influence people

The book was written in 1936.

The most important part of the book is on how to connect with people. One of Dale’s statements is, “A person’s name is to that person, the sweetest, most important sound in any language.”

One of the simplest ways to get someone to totally focus on you is to call him or her by name. You can easily get a person’s name from their profile and you should always have your name easily accessible as well.

ted rubin about page facebook page

Always make sure that your name and a few personal details are accessible on your profile.

You’ll hear the advantages of calling someone by his or her name and how to pick up on personal things that you can then use to make a connection.

Ted says there is no excuse in this digital world for failing to find out something about the person you are talking to. It’s these little things that set you apart from everybody else.

Listen to the show to learn why it goes a long way for people to know who you are as a person.

The phrase “Return on Relationship”

Ted says that when he first started to use the phrase in 2009, he thought he had coined it, but soon discovered that back in 2001, there had been a white paper called “Return on Relationship.”

He first started to use the expression when he worked at e.l.f. Cosmetics. When Ted joined the family-owned business, they had no marketing budget. This was a huge challenge for him.

Within four years, e.l.f. grew from $10-12MM/year to approximately $40MM within 2 years and became an inline brand at Target. The database increased from 600,000 to 2.4 MM. Ted saw this as a great opportunity to build relationships and leverage the data, reach and advocacy with social media.

elf cosmetics

The number of names in e.l.f.’s database increased from 600,000 to 2.4 million, from the use of promotions and social media.

The owners found it hard to understand why he wasn’t doing something that led directly to revenue. Ted found a way to get them to understand. It wasn’t about return on investment (ROI), it was about return on relationship.

You’ll discover what platform Ted used back in 2008-2009 that made him realize he was on to something. At the same time, he had built the first aggregated content site. The blog was very active and it really connected with people.

Listen to the show to learn why the return on relationship today is about the connection, loyalty and sharing you have with people.

Examples of brands that have done this well

Ted is a huge fan of Jet Blue because they listen. They let you know that they care when you have a problem and that they are doing something about it.

jetblue on twitter

Jet Blue does a great job of listening to customers.

Ted likes to say that brands are from Mars and consumers are from Venus. Brands say one thing, and consumers hear it differently. Consumers want to be heard. You can go a lot further if you show that you listen.

You’ll hear what happened when Jet Blue’s reputation took a hit back in 2009, and how they used social media to overcome it.

Duane Reade is another company that does an amazing job at building relationships. When Ted worked at Collective Bias, he helped build Duane Reade’s social presence from 900 to 1.7 million Twitter followers.

You’ll find out the strategy and what people associate the brand with.

Listen to the show to find out why critics are very valuable to your business.

The importance of brand advocates

Ted feels that in today’s digital world, recommendations and comments made by people are held in high regard. A lot of relationship building and interaction are vicarious—not necessarily resulting from a direct conversation.

Some people watch others’ conversations on Twitter or visit a person’s Facebook page every day just to get a feel for who they are.

For Ted, advocacy is about people who share and make recommendations. He feels that the comments people make to their friends via social media are more important than reviews.

You’ll hear about the best ways to build brand advocates and how their suggestions can help you form a connection with your community.

The best advocates you can have are your employees. A company called Dynamic Signal does a great job of helping company employees build their personal brands.

dynamic signal

You should give your employees a place where they can talk about you on your platform.

Listen to the show to find out how you can pay attention to your advocates.

Other Show Mentions

This week’s podcast is sponsored by Social Media Marketing World.

SMMW logoSocial Media Marketing World 2014 is our physical mega-conference, which is set to return to San Diego, California on March 26, 27 and 28.

The conference features more than 80 sessions in four major tracks: social tactics, social strategy, community management and content marketing.

A small sampling of some of the marketers speaking are from brands such as LinkedIn, Discover, Marriott, Huffington Post, H&R Block, Humana and Adobe, among many others.

To reinforce the networking value of this conference, here’s a clip from Chris Brogan.

If you want to take your relationship marketing to the next level, this is where you need to be. Be sure to check it out.

Call in and leave your social media–related questions for us and we may include them in a future show.

Key takeaways mentioned in this episode:

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What do you think? What are your thoughts on building meaningful connections? Please leave your comments below.

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  • Relationships are King!

  • Your business live by your relations you make in your journey

  • In 1983 The food service supplies company I was selling for kicked off it’s CRM theme (Customer Relationship Management) at a Saturday morning sales meeting – personally I’m beginning to believe SM obfuscates relationships because of all the data we’re trying to attach to them.

    My social media was a pager and a payphone (I got my first 6 pound cell phone the following year) but I was able to grow my territory in spite of having a PC with a 20 MEGABYTE hard drive to make customer item lists which otherwise needed a 2 week lead time from the companies IT department.

    The “conversation” hasn’t really changed since commerce began (the Roman’s?) – let’s not lose sight of that

  • AmandahBlackwell

    Great podcast!

    Yesterday, a business owner reached out to me on Google Plus with suggestions on how I could gain more exposure for me and my writing. He was sincere and stated, “I’m not selling anything; I just want to help.” I appreciated his gesture.

    I receive plenty of offers of help, but they usually come with a catch. I understand that everyone has to sell, but if you truly want to help someone, just help them.

  • Well said. It’s all about relationships and caring for others. 🙂

  • Wow! That podcast was amazing. As a business who’s really trying figure out the best way to establish rapport with people (as I do realize it pays off with business and other dividend in the end) I really needed to hear this to reinforce and refine what I’m doing.

    I definitely plan on getting Ted’s book in order to learn more about the way to go about the relationship building aspect of my marketing campaign.

    The old quote still rings true: “All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.”

    Confessions of A Fashion Stylist

  • Shelia

    Excellent episode Michael! I loved that you shared your NMX networking strategy with us. I saw you hanging out and now I understand why — I’m the crazy lady who told you I think you look even more handsome in real life 🙂
    I 100% agree that great relationship marketing is the key to true business success. It’s was pivotal in the success of my first business. I loved trade show season because it allowed us to have face to face conversations with clients and I was always amazed at how excited they were to have the owner of the company in the booth space.
    I bought the book and excited to check it out and hope to meet Ted at SMMW.

  • Thanks Shelia! Now you know there was a method to my madness :). Nice meeting you

  • Glad you found it valuable Sasha 🙂

  • Thanks Dr. Christy

  • Yep, genuine help is so rare these days for sure Amandah!

  • True that the strategies are timeliness and we need to go back to our roots when it comes to this stuff 🙂 BTW, I remember those phones ’cause I sold them.

  • High five Gabriel

  • You said it and I agree Patrick

  • Hana Walters

    Really interesting post. I am a big fan of loyalty apps as a way of creating deeper relationships with customers. In the UK there is a great app called but there are many others particularly in the US. Does anyone have a good loyalty app to recommend? Or are there any I should avoid?

  • Amazing podcast, Michael and Ted !!!

  • Establishing a relationship is key to people getting to know you as a presentation of the brand you stand for, as they gradually warm up o you, they may begin also to be attracted towards what you have to offer or do

  • Thanks Marcos!

  • agreed 🙂

  • Fab podcast as usual. I just wanted to say that the Refresh App is not available in the UK Store yet. But I will keep an eye out. xx julia

  • Thanks Julia and thanks for the note about the UK store

  • Pingback: Online Marketing – Weekly Roundup: Jan. 20 – Jan. 25, 2014 | CodeCondo()

  • linda failla

    Those days are long gone. In this yum(day) men have become lover’s of themselves. 🙂 however there are a “few good men left in the world”. Very well hidden though.

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  • Akash Agarwal

    I think meaningful connection means the right person or client for your product or business. Yes its very true that meaningful connection is very important to lead your business.

  • Hey Michael– I just wanted to point out that it is extremely rare to be able to post on a fan’s wall as the fanpage admin. This can only occur if someone has a completely open timeline (which hardly anyone has these days). This is why many brands are not doing it.

    Thanks for your podcasts!

  • No doubt the social media platforms play a significant role in building relation. These platforms do not just allow remaining accessible 24×7 but allows speaking with the targeted visitors on a personal level, thereby facilitating relationship marketing.

  • Hey Lindsey – I was referring to posting on someone else’s Facebook page rather than an individual’s wall. Thanks for pointing that out.

  • Its always about the people in a relationship. The internet gave birth to a host of fake personas a few years back, just before the FDC cracked down on things like those teeth whitening mommy blogs, but that really just underscored the importance of real relationships. And the best way to get involved in those is by meeting real people in a real place.

    An exceptional article, thank you.

  • Thanks Stephen

  • Really appreciated the podcast. Its ironic that we are rediscovering the old virtues of creating authentic relationships through social media.

  • Ohhh I see. But most of company’s fans wouldn’t have a fanpage of their own, just an individual page. It would be awesome if, as an admin, I could go in and post as my company to someone’s wall.

  • Thanks and I hear you Christian!

  • Absolutely, I am just learning my way around the social media world online and so far it has proven to be an interesting trip.

  • Taylor Young

    Hey Michael, glad to hear about your success coming up in the podcast world. In fact, this is the first podcast I’ve ever listened to! Right now I’m only an undergrad with a keen interest In marketing, and I thought hey why not check out one of those podcasts about it. And by grace of google I found you. Thank you for the valuable info. Much appreciated. Looking forward to more great podcasts, keep up the good work!

  • Pingback: Relationship Marketing: How to Build Meaningful Connections… ~via @smexaminer [Audio] | Ted Rubin()

  • Thanks much Taylor!

  • I saw you in the hallway at NMX – didn’t want to interrupt you there to say thanks for all the great info you provide….but I’m saying thanks now 🙂

  • Another gem indeed. I like the term “Return on Relationship” and I find that investing time and effort in meeting people face to face rocks big time. The only challenge of course is that it requires commitment, time and effort, plus of course being equipped with some of the basic social graces and human etiquette. Its a great idea to cite “How to Win Friends & Influence People” by Dale Carnegie! You need to get your off-line relationship building skills in place before venturing on-line.

  • Mark