The Five Phases Of Building Online Relationships
Nicola Moras (pictured below) is a social media and visibility expert and author of Visible, a guide for business owners on how to generate financial results from social media and digital marketing. In this extract from the book, Moras gives her top tips on using social to build better relationships…
We build relationships bit by bit, over time. If you want to build a new friendship, you don’t go from not knowing someone to suddenly sharing all of your deepest secrets and thoughts with them. It takes time and incremental additions to the friendship to build trust and rapport.
Stephen R Covey talks about this in his book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. He calls it the ‘trust account’ strategy. To paraphrase for you, for every positive interaction with someone you gain one point, and you keep gaining points for every positive interaction. This adds ‘trust widgets’ into your trust account with that person.
When it comes to relationship building on social media, similar thinking is necessary. We need to add value to our audience multiple times in order to gain and retain their trust and attention. I call this ‘value stacking’ (more on this later).
Building relationships and trust online is similar to what you would do offline while attending networking events, dinners or even seminars. Imagine you attend a networking event filled with people you have never met before. I suspect that you would focus on interacting with a few people. You’d start by asking them some questions and they’d answer them. Then they would ask you some questions and you’d answer them. This goes back and forth for a while and you start to form an opinion about that person. You decide if you ‘gel’ with them and if they are someone you might want to have further conversations with or get to know better. (Or not!) You might decide to exchange contact details and connect after the event.
Let’s be honest. You probably wouldn’t want to have lunch with someone who you don’t get along with, so you need to find a way to determine if they’re someone that you want to spend time with. This is where the question and answer conversations become super important.
When we’re online, we don’t have time to interact with every single person we come into contact with individually like this, but time is on our side in another way because we can build trust and rapport by being consistent over time with what we post online. There’s five progressive phases of developing online relationships, which centres on the ‘know you, like you, trust you’ feeling that is essential to building relationships online. Let’s break down the phases.
Don’t know you
This is when you’re not really online at all. You may have a Facebook business page but you haven’t posted any content on it, or perhaps you have a website but there’s just the mandatory ‘home’ and ‘about’ pages. There is no other content for your audience to engage with.