It’s February 14, and Valentine’s Day is already trending on Twitter. It’s estimated that more than 60% of adults will take time today to honor the important relationships in their lives. According to History.com, approximately 150 million cards and gifts will be sent. Couples will go on dates, friends will celebrate, and millions of people will exchange loving sentiments. Social media sites will light up with Valentine’s Day comments and pictures of happy couples, gifts, candy, and flower arrangements. It will dominate your newsfeeds and social streams, but what else do social media and Valentine’s Day have in common? Here are 5 things they share (and what you can learn from it).
1. A celebration of relationships.
When I was a child, I couldn’t wait for the Valentine’s Day gift exchange at school. It was a bright spot in the middle of a dreary winter season. I would carefully select a Valentine’s Day card for each of my classmates and drop it into a decorated box. I’d quickly run back to my own box, empty it out, and sort through all of the cards. I felt special. Important. Believe it or not, a similar scenario occurs daily on social sites like Facebook and Twitter. Think about it. These sites offer the digital equivalent of the Valentine’s Day card exchange. We create an online “box” and decorate it with pictures, profile information, and branding. We then encourage people to visit our boxes and “like” or “follow” them. When someone likes a social page, a relationship begins. With any blossoming relationship, what you do next is very important. Take the time to get to know your followers. Return the favor, and follow them back. Share information. Ask questions. Engage in conversations. Nurture these new relationships, and build trust. It will change how people view your brand and will drive true ROI for your business.
2. A spirit of giving.
Statistic Brain reports that 53% of women would end their relationship if they didn’t get something for Valentine’s Day. It may sound selfish, but it’s human nature. We want to feel appreciated and valued. Relationships involve a healthy balance of giving and taking. Don’t use your social presence only as a way to sell more of your products. Show love and appreciation to your followers. Find something on their page you can share. Retweet their posts. Provide exclusive content they can’t find anywhere else. Offer incentives for participating in contests and polls. Be creative. Have fun. Your audiences will appreciate the extra effort.
3. A desire to make a great impression.
Remember your first Valentine’s Day date? Did you try to put your best foot forward? We all want to make a great impression, but the real connection comes when you let your guard down and allow your true personality to shine through. It’s important to strip away the corporate speak when engaging in social conversations. You still want to maintain a professional image and respond appropriately, but don’t stop there. Incorporate an authentic, approachable, and conversational tone to build credibility with your audiences.
4. A need for active listening.
No one likes being around people who constantly talk about themselves. Those who don’t listen are at risk of driving people away. They are also the ones who take their dates to places they don’t like or mistakenly buy the wrong flowers on Valentine’s Day. Why? Because they didn’t pay attention. In social media, listening enables you to understand what people expect from your brand and how they feel about your products. You will gain valuable insights by listening to what people say online. At Cisco, we use listening to identify actionable conversations where we can respond in real-time to product and support questions, sales opportunities, product feedback, and crisis management situations. This helps us cater to the needs of our customers, identify issues as they arise, and adjust our strategy to ever changing market conditions.
5. A long-term plan.
I know Valentine’s Day takes place only once a year, but the relationships we celebrate don’t end on February 14. They continue long after the big day. Consistency is key in keeping these relationships going. Be active, and have a plan to keep people interested in your social sites and online communities. Cultivate meaningful, relevant content. Trigger and sustain ongoing conversations. Focus on activities that will strengthen and grow your relationships. Adopting this ‘always on’ mindset demonstrates a commitment to your audience and benefits everything from customer satisfaction to long-term ROI.
When Valentine’s Day comes to an end, it doesn’t really matter how you celebrated it. What does matter is that you took the time to recognize and appreciate the valued relationships in your life. They can be relationships with your spouse, your children, your friends, your colleagues, and even those you met online. Valentine’s Day occurs only once a year, but keeping its spirit alive every day will create deeper, more meaningful relationships for you and your brand.