Relationship Marketing At The Speed Of Social

The speed of social rules the day. We traverse platforms faster than we can blink an eye. Can social channels get any faster or more amalgamated? I’m sure. So how do healthcare brands keep up with the speed and intensity of relationships that are being formed in a variety of channels by consumers and healthcare professionals? How can brands form ongoing and valued relationships with their customers?

First, do you recognize the role reversal?

One important element in any relationship is to acknowledge when a change is occurring, and adapt. There is a role reversal that has shifted power from brand to consumer, and denial is not prudent. Pushing messages out to “enrollees” in a timed sequence via a single channel of your choice isn’t going to work now. Consumers are managing their high-speed, multi-dimensional relationships, not you.

In fact, “Relationship Marketing” as a term doesn’t really work anymore; it’s more about Relationship Building. And brands are lucky if consumers are willing to build one with them. People are busy building their own web of relationships that include networking with friends, colleagues, forums, groups…and brands -- all at the speed of social. 

So how can healthcare brands work on their relationship building skills?

It’s about Commitment

“Social media is on the cusp of being monetized” via what Extraprise calls “right-time multi-channel marketing.” It takes conversations and customer interactions—obtained via social media listening platforms and marketing data marts— and makes them part of customer profiles that can be contextualized in campaigns that drive the right offer to the right buyer at the right time,” according to Multi-channel Marketing Go Mobile, Go Social.

From my perspective, the future of quality relationships is directly related to the level of commitment brands are willing to make. It’s all about investment and intelligence, which facilitate a holistic view of customers that is possible via marketing automation, customer intelligence, CRM, and social media listening platforms. The commitment has to be made in terms of using the data properly to provide insights that fuel strategic decisions -- importantly in RM, about how to be at the right place and the right time to create relevance and trust. 

Do healthcare brands really know how to put this philosophy into practice?

Here are some tips:

  1. Recognize the need for multi-channel engagement. Over 70% of consumers want to interact with brands across different channels, depending on their specific stage, says Forrester. Given the complexities of each customer’s journey, stratified across platforms (e.g., tablets, mobile, laptops, point of care, offline), a well-thought-out contact and content strategy is essential and will ensure that we are engaging our customers on their terms.
  2. Build a dynamic and robust content library. The industry’s approval process hinders our ability to move with any speed, let alone the speed of social. So we need to think about content proactively. We must be prepared with content that can be fulfilled to a wide spectrum of customer types in an array of channels to fulfill the promise of engagement at the speed of social. And we don’t have to have all original content, we just need to identify valuable content that is aligned with brand goals, and make sure it is approved by our medical/legal/regulatory teams.
  3. Tighten the social circle with value. Companies report that friends, followers and connections begin to disappear when presented with continual promotion, whereas connections begin to increase when the focus is on sharing valuable information. Raving fans not only keep coming back because they find the information useful, inspiring, innovative or even entertaining but also share content with others, indoctrinating new potential customers in your brand. 

Conclusion

Engaging in RM at the speed of social doesn’t mean we should tweet every five minutes. It does mean that we have to understand and listen as the conversation takes shape and morphs. Our Relationship Building strategies should be based on deep insights that reflect the preferences, ideas, gaps, questions and needs of the consumer.

At the end of the day, if the message is relevant, it will be included in our consumers’ “social circle.”

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