Ever heard of the quote ‘Your network is your net worth’?
As an entrepreneur, small business owner or real estate investor, relationship-building should be one of the key activities to focus on.
Not really sure how to go about it, though? You’re in the right place!
In this article, we’ll take a look at a series of content marketing assets and strategies that will help you build stronger relationships with your prospects and clients.
One of the Ways Covid-19 Has Changed Our Lives
It’s undeniable, Covid-19 (or Coronavirus as it’s most commonly known) has shaped the way we do many things in our personal and professional life.
For some, the whole #WorkFromHome thing isn’t anything new (raising my hand here!). Same for relying on digital tools for team meetings and other tasks – some entrepreneurs and small business owners have been doing that for years.
However, the ongoing Covid-19 situation has forced millions of people and companies around the world to shift their entire operations online, something completely new to them.
Personally, I think that the current status quo is something that we should approach by asking ourselves how we can address the lack of face-to-face interactions as we rely on remote meetings, etc. in our business, and we’ll probably be doing that more in the future.
And, actually, I think this is something we should reflect on even beyond the whole Coronavirus situation.
If you leverage content marketing as an asset for your business, then you should ask yourself the question – How can I build stronger relations when using nothing but digital tools? – on a regular basis.
That’s where this article comes in.
Buckle up your seat belt because what I’m about to share with you will help you utilize content marketing not only as a way to promote your brand, business and products, but as a relationship-building avenue too.
Content Marketing & Relationship-Building Asset #1: Email List
A few weeks ago, I wrote about a series of strategies you can leverage to grow your email list.
As I mentioned in that post, email marketing has the highest ROI (Return On Investment) for each digital advertising dollar spent.
Email is the digital marketing tool that, when it comes to ROI, outperforms every other one – and that’s why it makes sense to start our roundup of relationship-building assets from it.
Through your email list, you have complete control of the content you share and the overall experience you create for your subscribers (true, from a user experience perspective, you are “limited” by the email marketing service you’ll use and its features, but you know what I mean).
From an email subscriber point of view, your email list provides quite the intimate experience.
While it’s true that you may be emailing a specific segment of your email list (hence hundreds or thousands of people), nowadays, email marketing services lets you automatically personalize your emails – by using the subscriber’s first name, for example.
This means that most of your email subscribers will feel as if you’re talking to them one-on-one.
If up until now you’ve started your emails with something like ‘Hello everybody!’ or ‘Dear subscribers!’, then you may want to reconsider your opening lines 🙂
Jokes aside, here are a few things you can do to build stronger relationships through your email list:
- Share Your Story: I’ve seen some digital marketers introduce themselves and their business using emails that go along the lines of ‘7 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Me’ or ‘10 Things I Wish I Knew When I Started My Business’.
Quite the unique and personable way to go about things!
Ask Questions: asking questions to your subscribers gives you the opportunity to turn your exchanges from one-sided to a more conversational style – you can also use questions to conduct market research (think surveys, for example).
Share a Survey (see point above): while a survey by itself isn’t much of a relationship-building tool, it actually provides you with insights on your community members. You can use these insights in future emails (e.g. cover topics you know your community is interested in, cover pain-points they’ve told you they’re struggling with, etc.), so you may want to keep them into consideration.
- Be Personable and Vulnerable: even though you’re using email for marketing purposes, it doesn’t mean that your emails can’t be personable. Try to write your emails as if you were writing to a friend (if it makes sense for your type of audience) – with a rather informal style .
You could even embed images, videos or GIFs to share some behind-the-scenes looks or give subscribers sneak-peeks of what you’re working on, share something you’ve done in your free time that you think would resonate with your community or share some more fun and laid-back content.
A good mix of educational content and a bit of entertainment will go a long way in fostering engagement. And don’t be afraid to be genuine and show your vulnerability too. This will build empathy in your subscribers…after all, we’re all human!
Content Marketing & Relationship-Building Asset #2: Facebook
Chances are you’re probably using social media marketing already (if you’re struggling, you know my team and I can help, right?).
But are you relying on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. exclusively to promote your business? Or are you building stronger relationships too, in the process?
If the answer is ‘no’, keep reading!
On Facebook, you can either use your personal profile, business page, Facebook group or all three.
When it comes to Facebook more in general, here are a few features I’d recommend looking into to start a conversation with your Facebook community.
The first tip is to ask questions. You can ask questions about pretty much anything but, in my experience, the easier to understand and to answer the question is, the lower the barrier to entry for people – this typically leads to more interaction.
Be creative and do your best to keep things fun!
“Fill in the gap” (for instance, ‘Finish the sentence: the go-to social media platform for my business is _________’) or something like ‘Happy Friday! Describe your week using nothing but emojis’ are a couple of examples you can use to get started and that will almost certainly lead to interaction.
For your Facebook business page you could engage users who visit it through automated Facebook Messenger chats.
The Ask for Recommendations feature can be quite the engaging way to get answers to a question you have.
Hosting a Watch Party enables you to watch any public video in real-time, with a group of friends, colleagues and clients, on Facebook. This can be an interesting way to present or bring back into the conversation a video you recorded in the past and use it to create a sort of “campfire-style chat” with other viewers.
Are you the admin of a Facebook group?
Then, sharing a poll with your group members or even using the Get-Together feature to try to move the interaction from online to in-person can come in handy.
In case the Facebook group you run is a closed/private one, then you can even write up 3 questions that people who are asking for permission to join the group need to answer.
You can write the questions (or change them) by heading to your Facebook group and then choose: Moderate Group > Membership Questions.
Prefer using Facebook Live? Here are some ideas to build stronger relationships through live video:
- Bring your community into your office or home and share your company culture, and the “behind-the-scenes” of your day-to-day
- Share something unique you’ve just witnessed (maybe you went for a nice walk outdoors and came across a wild animal…why not share your “private safari” experience with others?)
- Give your audience access to you through an Audience Q&A or an AMA (Ask Me Anything) or share experts interviews you may conduct via Facebook Live
- Enable your community to virtually access events they may not be able to attend (by giving them a tour of the event venue, share the key tips or even by live streaming entire sessions)
- Give your audience members access to you, as well as to each other, through a mastermind-like or group live stream (third-party tools such as BeLive, eCamm Live, StreamYard or the open-source OBS Studio let you do that)
- Let your community get an exclusive sneak peek at something you’re working on
- If you’re an author of a newly-published or upcoming book, you could read a couple of pages
Recently, Facebook launched a brand new dashboard for setting up and managing your live streams.
Thinking about doing video collaborations on Facebook? The Video Crosspost option allows you to share your videos across different pages (or on your page and those managed by your collaborators).
Keep in mind that, if you’d like to do things a little differently or you’d like to make your content available only for a limited window of time, then you could post a Facebook Story.
A Story is a post that includes text, a photo or screenshot, a GIF or drawing, or a video, and that disappears after 24 hours.
This is a type of content you might want to use for things you feel aren’t necessarily evergreen, like you sharing the behind-the-scenes, your day-to-day or something along those lines.
And if your personal Facebook profile is something you use for your business too, then you can keep an eye out for Facebook’s Share a Memory feature – and use it in a similar way you’d use a FB Watch Party, as a conversation-starter, for example.
Sometimes, an old memory can spark interesting and fun conversations!
Content Marketing & Relationship-Building Asset #3: Twitter
There are different ways you can leverage Twitter to build stronger relationships with your prospects and clients.
Similarly to what we’ve looked at for email and Facebook, you could tweet a question (remember: visual content and GIFs can help your tweets stand out more).
Twitter Polls let your community weigh in on questions you posed on Twitter, while researching and using specific hashtags is an excellent way to start and join the conversation people are having about a specific topic.
There are even Twitter chats that revolve around certain hashtags – like Moz’s #SEOchat, #SmallBizChat, Hootsuite’s #HootChat and #TwitterSmarter.
Is Twitter a key platform for communicating with your prospects, peers, and clients?
Then, you may want to consider taking matters into your own hands and start your own Twitter chat (Hootsuite and @TwitterBusiness have written about hosting and promoting your Twitter chat, if you’d like to go down that road).
Periscope is to Twitter what Facebook Live is to Facebook.
Launched back in 2015, when live streaming was at its beginnings, Periscope lets you go live and share your video streams with your Twitter followers, as well as with the Periscope community.
Compared to Facebook Live streams, which are shared with a specific group of people (your Facebook friends, Facebook biz page fans or Facebook group members), your Periscope streams are available to everyone – like it happens for your Twitter profile and tweets, as long as it’s public.
This means that you can use Periscope to engage with your existing community similarly to what you could do on Facebook (live Q&As/AMA, behind-the-scenes, etc.), and that you could even engage with potential leads who you may not be connected with on Twitter just yet.
If you aren’t that comfortable doing a live stream, you could even use a hybrid approach: record a short video asking a specific question, publish it on Twitter using a couple of hashtags and ask people to reply to your question.
True, this won’t be a live interaction per se, but asynchronous interaction can be quite powerful too!
Would you like to get your hands dirty and experiment with something a little more advanced? If you’ve answered ‘yes!’, look into Twitter cards.
What can you ‘seed’ when creating content for videos or podcasts to boost your credibility?
— Smooth Sailing & Real Estate Investor’s Marketing (@smoothsailingbg) April 1, 2020
Before we move on to the next asset, let’s go back to Twitter hashtags for a moment.
I’m not sure if you know this, but you can monitor and join the conversation happening around specific hashtags through Twitter’s Explore section.
Alternatively, you can use this simple social media listening hack in Hootsuite, a tool typically used to schedule social media posts.
If you’d like to keep an eye on the conversation that’s taking place in relation to certain hashtags, you can do so in Hootsuite too.
Head over to Hootsuite.com and log in using one of your social media accounts.
Next, click on the + Add Stream button and choose Twitter.
After that, click on Keyword, select your Twitter profile and type the word or phrase you’d like to monitor – let’s say #RealEstateInvesting.
Add your keyword or keywords (you can have a maximum of 3 keywords/phrases) and click on the Add Stream button.
Hootsuite will automatically create a stream, a column that lists tweets that match your criteria.
Now you’ll have a centralized location you can go to join the conversation people are having around a particular hashtag or keyword.
Sure, this hack isn’t perfect for the fact that I could tweet something completely random and unrelated to real estate investing but my tweet will still be added to the Hootsuite stream if I used the hashtag #RealEstateInvesting in it.
However, I believe it’s still a helpful and relatively quick way to sort through tweets and people who are talking about a specific topic, and start connecting with them.
Content Marketing & Relationship-Building Asset #4: LinkedIn
Ok, by now you know the drill! 🙂
Asking a simple question on social media is an easy way to break the ice with your contacts, and the same can be said for LinkedIn.
You can do that in a post, by publishing it on your profile or page, in a LinkedIn group or by recording a video about it.
If video is your thing, then you should apply to become eligible as a LinkedIn Live Broadcaster and use live video on the platform.
No worries, you can still create engaging content that doesn’t require you to be on camera and use it on LinkedIn!
Simply head to your LinkedIn homepage and click on Write An Article to be redirected to the LinkedIn Publishing dashboard.
Now, you’ll be able to create written content on LinkedIn – you can even enrich your articles by embedding images, videos, slides, links and code snippets.
Speaking of images and slides, you may have probably seen slide decks uploaded on LinkedIn through SlideShare and you might have also started to notice a new trend on LinkedIn that comes from platforms like Instagram and that have been used primarily in LinkedIn Ads: image carousels.
When used strategically, a series of images presented as a carousel can be very effective in laying out a strategy, discussing the steps of a process, or something like that.
Here’s an example of a carousel posted by LinkedIn expert Dennis Brown:
See the small arrows point on the left and the right? A person can see the previous/next piece of advice and photo in the carousel by clicking on them.
Typically, people focus on and use hashtags on Twitter and Instagram but you can use them on LinkedIn too.
You can do a search by simply entering a specific hashtag or profession (e.g. business coach) in the LinkedIn search bar to find relevant content or people to connect with.
Since LinkedIn is used primarily for business, then you don’t need me to tell you how much of an important platform it is.
In case you’re just getting started, a couple of easy ways to start leveraging the platform for relationship-building purposes are:
- Looking at posts of people you follow (by the way, are we connected on LinkedIn?) and begin interacting with them and others by leaving a comment
- Starting to follow specific hashtags and start/join the conversation around them
- Send a Direct Message to a contact. This is a low-hanging fruit that’s often overlooked, especially as your LinkedIn network grows.
- simple way to make this work is to simply carve out a few minutes every week to message some of your LinkedIn contacts – especially those you haven’t interacted with for a while.
- Do you have only 15 minutes a week to do this?
- No worries! Whenever you have time, start by browsing through your contacts (you can do that alphabetically) and send a direct message to the key ones.
You can even write and use a simple template to speed things up, something as simple as:
‘Hi, [CONTACT NAME]!
It’s been a while, how are you doing?
I wanted to reach out to see how things are and what you’re working on these days.
- Personalize your connection requests. Nothing screams ‘vanilla’ louder then a connection invitation with the default ‘Hi Lyndsay, I’d like to join your LinkedIn network.’
What you can do, instead, is customize your connection invitation by clicking on Connect, then choose Add a Note (in some cases, or if you’re using the LinkedIn smartphone app, you might need to choose More > Personalize Invite).
Spending a few seconds to personalize your LinkedIn invitations will help you increase the connection request acceptance rate, as well as break the ice with contacts and leads on LinkedIn.
Content Marketing & Relationship-Building Asset #5: Instagram
I’ve mentioned Instagram a couple of times so far…now, let’s take a closer look at it!
In case you’re seeing Instagram simply as a social media channel where people post cute photos of their pets or incredible landscapes, the way you see things is about to change 🙂
You see, Instagram does pretty much everything we’ve covered for other platforms, so far.
In fact, you can use Instagram as a relationship-building platform through:
- Posting a photo, a slider/carousel or a video (60 seconds or shorter) – and use that content to engage with people by asking them to leave comments to your post, for instance
- Hosting an Instagram Live to carry out some of the points we’ve looked at for other platforms (like a Q&As, behind-the-scenes, and so forth)
- Use Instagram Stories to share content and make it available only for 24 hours, unless you want to add it to your Instagram profile Story Highlights (see photo below).
Polls, Questions, Quizzes, Stickers and emojis are some fun and engaging add-ons you can pair with the photos and videos you share as part of your Instagram Stories.
- Do an Instagram takeover: taking over a person’s or a company’s Instagram account (with their consent, obviously!) can be a nice way to connect with their audience
Compared to LinkedIn, Instagram has a much more laid-back style, making it the perfect place to show how personable you are and share content that may not always be directly related to your work but that could engage people nonetheless.
Content Marketing & Relationship-Building Asset #6: Video
Ok, there’s so much that falls under the video category: YouTube, video conference calls, webinars…
Let’s start with the world’s #1 video platform and second largest search engine (aka a potential organic search and traffic, and SEO goldmine): YouTube.
In addition to the actual video content you publish on your channel, comments are a very good way to build relationships with your audience.
An easy way to keep an eye on and reply to comments, as well as to manage other aspects of your YouTube channel, is to install the free YouTube Studio app on your smartphone.
Moreover, there’s the ability to schedule and host live streams through your YouTube dashboard and interact with users in real-time thanks to the built-in YouTube chat.
Alternatively, you can decide to embed your YouTube live stream on a specific page on your website and pair that with a third-party chat solution such as Chatroll or use a live widget you may be using for customer service on your website (think of Intercom, Drift and LiveChat, for instance).
And in case you’re wondering, yes, you can do most of the things we’ve looked at for other platforms on YouTube live streams too. Think Q&As, live streams from one event most of your audience isn’t able to attend, etc.
Webinars are something that would probably need an entire blog post of their own.
The first thing to consider is the type of experience you’d like to create for your community and how you’d like to relate to its members.
If you’d like to give them direct access to you and other members or experts, then a live webinar is the way to go.
Were you thinking of doing something more educational and informational? In that case, a pre-recorded or hybrid webinar (where you show a pre-recorded video but are still available – in-person – in the live chat) are worth looking into.
You can use webinar platforms like GoToWebinar, EasyWebinar and WebinarNinja, as well as video conferencing platforms (these days, everyone seems to have just found out about Zoom, isn’t it?) to host digital workshops, virtual get-togethers, Q&A and online roundtable sessions.
Remember that the more people join your webinar or live streams, the more active the live chat is going to be.
Because of this, it would be a good idea to have someone like a VA help you keep track of the questions being posted there.
If you want to go solo, make sure that you have a moment toward the end of your presentation, or a couple of times throughout your webinar, to browse through the questions that have been posted in the chat.
You can even make your webinars, video calls or streams more engaging by using third-party platforms like Slido.
Slido lets you easily set up live polls and real-time Q&A sessions that you can integrate within your GoToMeeting or Zoom video stream.
You may be using something like Zoom to communicate with other members of your team and have video conference calls.
If that’s something you’ve been doing for a while already, then you should consider expanding your use of Zoom beyond simple team calls and use it to host exclusive Q&A and mastermind-like videos, or some of the other relationship-building strategies we’ve gone through in this post.
Is Slack part of your toolkit?
Chances are you are using Slack to communicate with your assistant(s), team members or clients – maybe you even have video calls there.
Question for you: have you ever heard of Standuply?
You probably haven’t but I’m sure that, if Slack is an app you rely on to coordinate with your team, you’ll be signing up for Standuply in no time!
Dubbed as the ‘First-ever project management digital assistant’, Standuply helps you automate the management of your processes on Slack.
Of the different features Standuply brings to the table, the one I think is going to be a game-changer for you and your team on Slack is the ability to run asynchronous standup meetings via text, audio and video.
Wondering what I mean? Keep reading!
Start by pick days and times for your (asynchronous) standup meetings.
Next, create the content you’ll automatically use to run the meeting: record short videos and voice messages or type your questions and comments.
To speed things up, you can even use one of the predefined templates available, and you can enrich your Slack comments by adding charts, graphs and reports to them – and have them displayed during a meeting.
When the time of your standup meeting comes, the Standuply bot will automatically run the meeting following the parameters you’ve set up for it.
It will ask members of your team the questions you’ve picked and will show everything following your instructions, as either text, video or audio questions/comments.
Not bad, huh?
While real-time interaction through something like a weekly Zoom or Slack video call is phenomenal, especially if your team has members around the world, automating your asynchronous standup meetings will help you keep track of your team and work, while winning some time back.
Bonjoro is the last app that’s part of this video section.
Would you like to boost customer engagement and stand out from the crowd?
Did I hear a ‘Yes!’?
I know I did!
Bonjoro is a platform and app that lets you create quick and perfectly-timed personal videos. You can use and send these videos (affectionately known as Bonjoros) to:
- Nurture leads (see it in action here)
- Thank customers (here’s how Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income uses Bonjoro)
- Onboard new clients (watch this example)
- Check-in with existing or former clients (here’s another example)
What makes Bonjoro so awesome is the fact that you can record and send a Bonjoro with nothing but your smartphone and the Bonjoro app.
And through a wide library of integrations, you can pair Bonjoro with your go-to email marketing software, CRM or eCommerce platform and start creating engaging videos to share with your email subscribers, CRM contacts, and so forth.
Plus, the Bonjoro team has put together a free playbook with templates and examples, making it super-easy to get started with it.
Don’t forget that video is the next best thing to face-to-face interaction!
Content Marketing & Relationship-Building Asset #7: Quizzes
Let me ask you a question.
Have you ever taken an online quiz?
You know, one of those ‘What [ENTER YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE TITLE HERE] character are you?’ type of quizzes.
If you like to keep yourself up-to-date with the online business world, you have probably noticed some entrepreneurs, marketers and companies having quizzes on their website.
Online quizzes are a way to:
- Engage with and entertain your website visitors
- Identify what your community members are interested in (and offer them tailored content)
- Segment your website visitors based on their interests
- Generate leads (as, in many cases, you can put the results of the quiz behind a “sign-up wall” – meaning that people will need to subscribe to your email list to be able to view the results of the quiz)
If your business runs on a self-hosted WordPress site, the WP plugin Thrive Quiz Builder is worth looking into.
It’s reasonably priced (the starting price is a one-time payment of $67), easy to install and doesn’t require you to be a programming wizard to set up and share your online quizzes.
Plus, you can even A/B test different layers and elements of your quiz to create the best-converting quiz possible.
I think online quizzes are worth experimenting with for the fact that they are a fun and engaging way to interact with your website visitors, learn more about their interests and pain-points and offer them tailored next steps (e.g. a specific piece of content that addresses their interest, having a discovery call, etc.).
Bonus Tip (You Can’t Afford to Ignore This!)
As you’ve seen with this guide, there are many different ways, strategies and resources you can use to interact with your contacts, leads and customers.
However, there’s an additional strategy I’d like to share with you.
It’s such a low-hanging fruit that I’m often amazed by how many entrepreneurs, real estate investors and small business owners ignored it…
Yet, it’s so powerful.
You know what I’m talking about, right? 😉
‘Go where your target prospects are.’
True: building and growing your own community is an excellent way to go about things.
Also true: there are communities out there that you can tap into right now and immediately find yourself surrounded by dozens, hundreds or even thousands of your target prospects.
Head over to Facebook and enter your keyword (real estate, maybe?) in the search bar and click Enter on your keyboard.
Next, choose Groups.
Now you’ll have a list of FB groups that revolve around real estate and that you should join.
You can do the same by simply entering your keyword + forum on Google or even look at relevant online community, niche and social news platforms.
Reddit, Hacker News and Growth Hackers are some examples of what I’m referring to.
Make sure to follow the group/forum rules and guidelines but, at the same time, don’t be afraid to connect with members that appear to be a good fit for what you do.
One thing you could do is engage with them in the group or community for a few days, then connect with them on LinkedIn (don’t forget to send them a customized invite!).
After you’re connected on LinkedIn, you can carry on the conversation there or even suggest the prospect joins your own Facebook group, email list or enters your lead-nurturing funnel through whatever channel you deem the best.
Would you like to take things one step further?
Awario and Brand24 will show you WHO is talking about you and WHERE, so that you can go where they are and engage with them there.
At this point, I’d like you to take a moment to think about what your relationship-building – or lead-nurturing, if you prefer – funnel looks like.
What are the tools and strategies it’s made of?
We’ve looked at:
- Your email list
- Online quizzes
- Going where your prospects are
Regardless of what you’ll end up going for, there are a few things you want to make sure you keep in mind when going about building relationships.
The first one is to always tag/@ mention relevant people in your posts or comments on specific platforms.
When you @ mention someone on Twitter, for instance, they’re going to receive a notification of your tweet and will be able to interact with it.
This wouldn’t happen and your tweet would most likely get lost in Twitter’s sea of tweets (did you know that there are over 350,000 tweets being sent out every minute?).
Don’t go overboard with your tagging but definitely take advantage of this aspect.
As far as notifications are concerned, you’ll be notified whenever someone @ mentions you or interacts with one of your tweets and posts.
Someone took a moment to interact with your content…don’t take this for granted!
This means that he/she is likely to be interested in starting or joining an online conversation with you.
Whenever possible, reply to comments, feedback, compliments someone shared in relation to one of your posts or tweets.
And do the same if you happen to notice that someone has shared or retweeted your content.
When going where your prospects are, make sure that, first and foremost, you familiarize yourself with the Dos and Don’ts of the online community, Facebook group, etc. where they are.
Be a giver FIRST.
Don’t try to simply push your own agenda, do your best to serve your prospects FIRST.
A simple share, a positive comment or an introduction can go a long way.
Approach business relationship-building like you would an in-person social gathering.
Typically, you wouldn’t walk around just telling people about what you sell, especially people who may know nothing or very little about you.
You would approach them and break the ice first. Ask questions about them and try to know them a little before telling them more about yourself.
I’m often left speechless whenever I see people not doing this online.
If you didn’t know me, would you stop me while I’m walking down the street and ask me to buy your things without knowing a single thing about me?
Not a chance, right?
So, why do that online?
Try to follow the social interaction etiquette you’d use for face-to-face interactions whenever you try to connect with someone online.
And if you feel that you’d like to implement some of the strategies discussed in this article but aren’t sure which one to focus on – or how to get started with it all – get in touch, I’m just one email away!