Lately, I’ve heard the term “moderating” tossed around.  Every time I hear the term and the associated conversation, I can’t help but feel I’ve time traveled.  When social media and brands first started the getting to know you phase of their relationship, it made sense that there was a bit of awkwardness and a need to test the waters before full trust existed.

In 2014, brands can no longer simply moderate the discussions happening online.  At least, not if they would expect to be productive.

Consider this scenario.  A colleague walks up to you and incites a conversation.  You try to answer their question and engage in the conversation but they either A) continue talking at you or B) walk away.  This happens every time you see this colleague.  After some time, you learn that this individual is not actually interested in a relationship and seems to have a narcissistic streak.  You give up attempting to engage and perhaps even avoid them whenever you see them headed your way.

Now, if this the scenario above with your co-worker is not what an ideal relationship looks like and does not add value, then what type of relationship would?

This same concept applies directly to B2B and B2C marketing.  Don’t talk at people, engage them. This happens through relationship building which involves a human connection, an exchange, if you will.

Paradise Bakery provides a perfect example of relationship building through social media.  I tweeted, I grammed.  I checked in on Foursquare.  I did not tag Paradise Bakery on Twitter.  But they were listening. And respond and engage they did.  And because they listened and engaged, I responded.  The result? Paradise Bakery has now gained my respect for them as a brand but I also feel a connection with them.  I can trust that when they walk up to me and ask a question, when I respond, they will listen.  And they will not interrupt me to inform me about their promotions.

Paradise Bakery, this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.

Paradise Bakery responds to untagged tweet and demonstrates that they listen