How brands can build online relationships

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Building online relationships matters for brands with consumers researching products online, shopping online, and leaving reviews – to name a few.

Relationships matter. They always have, even before the Internet. With business done digitally and in person, the way we can build connections has undoubtedly changed and evolved. There’s a good mix of off-line and online connections, and some overlap when done well.

We discussed how to build online relationships on these episodes of The Business Storytelling Show.

In this episode of the Business Storytelling Podcast, I talked with Nimble CEO John Ferrara about how you can build relationships, especially when you’re mostly connected digitally. Jon and my relationship is a good example as we connected on Twitter a while back, but I’ve never met him in person.

Sheri Fitts, Creator of digitalEQ™, joins me on this episode to discuss how to create connections when we’re not in front of each other. Sheri offered many good tips and said that digitalEQ comes down to emotional intelligence and digital influence.

Indeed, it can be easier said than done to build online relationships. Here are some more tips.

On the show, Jon broke it down into five areas.


Educating your audience comes back to sharing content that they might find valuable. It’s a fine line between posting educational content at the right volumes or so much that people will feel spammed. I’ve unfollowed people that are very knowledgeable in a topic, but they post so much that it’s a full-time job to keep up on their content.


Engagement can be as easy as replying to people within context. Sometimes you might say “thank you for sharing my post” or add additional comments. I am typically a fan of adding further comments to a conversation versus just saying thank you. If you just wanted to thank them you could probably just like a post.

Here’s an example from my friend Mael Roth when I shared his article. He sent a thank you gif.


It’s about delighting people. Share something that makes their day or engage in a highly meaningful way. In my customer service book we call that delighters.


Connect with people on the right level and enjoy and value the relationship and exchange.


By sharing your knowledge and being available empower people to be successful.

Read next: Marketing with Twitter: How the parody Twitter account Adweak grew and helps with business leads

The power of loose connections

Certainly, it can be hard to have deep connections with a lot of people. Maybe even impossible. But by following the above model and the strategies in my No. 1 new release public relations book – Content Performance Culture – you can build a network of connections that know, trust and appreciate what you bring to the table.

Once you connect with relevant people and offer value over a sustained period of time those people will also help you when you need help. This became even clearer to me when I launched my content performance culture book and my connections – especially on Twitter – really went above and beyond helping me promote it.

I pinned the following tweet to the top of my timeline and it’s another great example of how important good pinned tweets are.

I also sent strategic messages to connections to invite them to check out my book and that I would appreciate retweets. They were also offered a discounted and signed copy as long as they were in the United States by using this link. You are also invited to order a signed copy here as long as you are located in the United States. Unfortunately, I can’t send them worldwide for that cost.

Overall the impressions were fantastic. I also spent $50 on a Twitter promoted post but as you can see the organic reach and especially clicks were outstanding.

Here’s a quick sampling of what people said. Keep in mind that I’ve been connected to many of them for years and even have met some of them in person at conferences and other events.


None of these friends had to share my content and certainly, it helped get the book listed at No. 1 of new releases in the public relations arena.

Building relationships anywhere online and off-line does take time. But with digital tools and even sophisticated automation, we can build and maintain relationships at a much higher volume than it was ever possible in an off-line only world.

Will everyone love us?

Of course, once you build a decent size community it’s certain that not everyone will love you.

A few years ago I even published my own mean tweets video and shared some of the things people have said about me that were less than positive. I’ve also published negative speaking feedback I’ve received as well.

At the end of the day, not everyone will love you but the right people will.

Figure out what you stand for, what your expertise is, and what you’re passionate about, and then build your community from there by being helpful and easy to engage with.

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