Get to know your customers first, connect with social networks second

Cartoon making fun of social mediaOne in three divorces in the UK now cite Facebook as a factor in the deterioration of the couple’s relationship. Five years ago, it wasn’t a problem. Facebook appears to have become the new “mistress”. Of course, appearances can be deceptive as new research into the impact of Facebook on relationships demonstrates.

According to the study conducted in Columbia, Hawaii and Texas, Facebook certainly does have a negative impact on relationships BUT only if those relationships are less than three years old. In other words, Facebook is not an issue for people who already have established relationships. It is a source of conflict, however, for couples in a newly-established relationship.

Of course, that makes perfect sense. Many divorces are in the early parts of relationships as couples get to know each other and gradually realise they were not really made for each other after all.

Yet, the same can be seen in business relationships too. Think about your client list. Some people you will have worked with for ages, decades or more perhaps. Others, in the fledgling stage are a bit more troubling. Some of these new customers you discover are more demanding than you thought, they take up more time than you had planned and you feel less inclined to keep them for the long-term. Many businesses have a high “churn” of customers in those early years of developing a relationship because the two sides discover they are not always meant to be together.

However, businesses can miss out on long-term, beneficial relationships when those early years have conflict. Enter social networking.

This new research on relationship conflict and social networking suggests that for new customers it is a bad idea to use social networking. Social networks in those early years of a developing relationship appear to introduce additional conflict making the likelihood of a long-term relationship much less likely.

It all points to one thing. Forming a real, face-to-face, real world relationship with your customers is the true solution to long-term success.

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