September 13, 2020

3 Ways You Can Create Meaningful Social Media Relationships Today

In order to thrive successfully on social media, we need to build genuine, meaningful relationships. Too often, however, many do not want to invest the quality time necessary to build the connections necessary toward expediting their path toward success. Are you a creative type? Perhaps you feel it’s safer behind a black mirror, away from the noise of the world. Are you a business type? You may not see the point of social media or realize that you need to educate yourself on best practices in order to create sound, beneficial relationships.

This needs to change.

When you struggle to embrace the idea of creating long term goals on social media — in short, building relationships that will help you grow professionally, personally, even spiritually — you put yourself at a disadvantage.

There’s no question that creating lasting, meaningful relationships takes time. It requires work (the horror!) and constant feeding. But by putting in the effort, you can not only cultivate and build your brand, you will also earn a significant advantage in the marketplace, one that opens doors and gives you more opportunity than you can imagine.

The good news is that the hard work need not be a slog. In fact, when you see the results, I guarantee you’ll actually look forward to doing it more often. So, let’s get to it. Here are 3 ways you can create meaningful social media relationships today:

#1 — Make Relationship Building Fun (But Still Treat it Like a Job)

One of the most common mistakes we make as we build our network on social media is targeting only influencers who can do something for us. While connecting with people in this realm isn’t a bad idea, connecting with them solely for your own benefit is. Further, approaching these people of influence with a “look at me” approach is likely to be met with radio silence. That alone will dampen your desire to continue on.

Here’s the truth…

People of influence are still just people. They have the same needs and desires as anyone else. But, because they are people of influence, they’re approached those with selfish interests all the time. So, for starters, come from a selfless place. Treat them like human beings, not rungs on a ladder.

Further, don’t target influencers alone! Building relationships with people who share your passions, pursuits and interests, no matter what their status, will benefit you more than solely targeting influencers. Remember, this is a relationship business. You want and need champions. And over the course of a long time in the industry — something I hope you desire — you will see many people in your circle rise and fall. You never know when someone you decide isn’t worthy of your time ends up catching their break.

Not that long ago I was chatting with a filmmaker who told me about a woman he met at a film festival. We’ll call him Brad and her Susan. Susan was fairly new to the industry and didn’t have much to show for herself. Brad didn’t see the value in talking to her, so he kept the conversation to a minimum and found a quick exit. A few months later he learned that she was attached to a pilot being picked up by Amazon. He told me, “I shouldn’t have dismissed her. I got my ego checked that day.”

Growing your network (online or off) is part of your job. Leave your ego and cynicism at home and choose to, at least initially, value every person you meet (and make sure you bring value to them as well). Have fun with the process, too. But remember, this is just as much about them as it is about you, even more so at first contact.

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#2 — Do Your Research (Get to Know Those You Want Relationships With)

I think we can all agree, talking to a wall is no fun. When you attempt to connect with someone without knowing anything about them, you might as well turn around and talk to the wall.

I jest, but still…

If there is someone you would like to connect with, particularly someone of influence, the single greatest thing you can do for yourself is get to know them. Look them up on IMDb. Visit their website. Watch their movies. Study their scripts. Follow them on Twitter and observe what they post. Retweet their content or even their funny joke. Tailor your approach to what you learn about them because, and this is important, you are going to make the conversation about them.

A few years back at the Austin Film Festival I watched one content creator in particular hit the ground like a burning plane after talking face to face with a well-known filmmaker. As Mr. Filmmaker and I chatted, we noticed a handful of writers cautiously pacing the couch where we sat. They watched us talk, waiting for the right moment for him to stop breathing so they could pounce on him for a chat.

One by one, they moved in.

The first guy (who crashed and burned) dove right into the merits of his “brilliant” script and never took a moment to let Mr. Filmmaker get a word in edgewise. Nor did he even make reference to Mr. Filmmaker’s extraordinary body of work. In short, he brought no value. Mr. Filmmaker dismissed him out of hand.

Next, was a woman I’ll call Grace. She approached him with pleasantries and then asked him if she could pose a question. He said yes. And do you know what she did? She asked him about a particular movie he wrote and directed.

Why did he make the choices he did in a specific scene?
Did he allow the actors to improvise?
Did the actors stay true to the script?

I go into the full story in my book, Crowdsourcing for Filmmakers: Indie Film and the Power of the Crowd, but let’s just say that this particular conversation warmed Mr. Filmmaker’s heart. Grace had done her research and made it personal. She treated him as a fellow creative and human.

Mr. Filmmaker and Grace stayed connected for months afterwards, building an authentic relationship on equal terms. Thanks to this relationship, Mr. Filmmaker helped Grace sign with a manager. The other guy? Based on his social media account (yes, people are looking at your social accounts — make no mistake), he’s still building one-sided relationships that crash and burn.

Do your homework and get to know the people you want to connect with. That’s impressive. Bombarding them with your story before you ask about their dog or their goldfish or their movie, is not.

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#3 — Answer the Call (Respond to Everyone Who Responds to You)

I have said time and time again that social media is all about engagement. If you go in strictly as a broadcaster, you’ve already stacked points against you. Broadcasters tell one-sided stories and rarely respond to those who might comment or like. Those who answer the call tell stories, read stories, share stories, like, comment, and even offer solutions. They’re communicators.

Here’s the deal —

If you like or follow people strictly for your benefit, you’re already putting yourself at a disadvantage. Conversely, if you like or follow people, and bring value by commenting on their posts, asking them questions, or thanking them for sharing such amazing content you’re putting yourself at an advantage. (If you are on Stage 32, you can do this by posting on their wall or sending a DM.)

But let’s take this a step further. You must take the time to respond to those who respond to you. If you post a picture of your crew and someone asks what kind of camera the DP is using, answer them. If someone thanks you for a great post, thank ’em for thanking you.

What if someone says something negative, you ask? Answer them as well. Do so calmly and reasonably. Kill them with kindness. Show your followers that part of your brand is that you can be a communicator even when under duress.

Case in point: A writer created a web series where she described one of her characters as a “half-wit.” After she shared the character profile with her audience, a follower said:

Follower: Hate the term half-wit.

Creator: We never want to offend anyone and do our best to avoid it. If we’ve offended you, we apologize. The term is in the Webster-Merriam dictionary and best describes our character. What term would resonate better with you?

Follower: Don’t pay any attention to me. I’m just old and crotchety. Lol. Wasn’t thinking. It’s a character not a real person. Sorry!

Creator: You owe us nothing! We are grateful for your interest, as well as your feedback. Thanks for coming along for the ride.

Respond. Even to the ornery ones. It will pay off in the end.

Now that you know three ways to create relationships on social media, only one question remains — What will you do differently as you go forth to build meaningful relationship on social media today? Your potential success is entirely in your control.

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