Building Relationships on Twitter and Facebook – from Theory to Practice

I want to talk here about a theoretical model that I spent a great deal of time working with when I did my MBA, and that is the concept of building a relationships with marketing.

When I graduated in 2009 and started to look for ways to implement the theory I had learnt, this model gave me my first eureka moment when I saw Twitter and Facebook.

This post will be a walk through the theory and then on to the practice… you are all intelligent people, so I know you will find this an interesting journey to take with me.

The theory of building relationships is a 3 step process of Actor Bonds, Activity Links and Resource Ties. (1)

Actor Bonds
In any business relationship (in fact in most non business relationships too) there need to be a bond between the actors… in other words we need to like, and have some rapport with, a person before we will buy from them. This principle is especially true for businesses that have high credence (the buyer does not understand and finds it hard to evaluate the purchased services, e.g.a surgeon) and businesses that offer high involvement products and services ( i.e. not impulse purchases e.g. houses )… so think about dentistry, this is both High Involvement AND High Credence, so having good Actor Bonds is vital. We need to feel we like the dentist before we commit to the next stage… an activity link.

Activity Links
Once we feel we like someone we will take a first small step towards engaging with them more, and this is called an activity link. These could be things like:

  1. Reading a website
  2. Reading a blog
  3. Reading a leaflet
  4. Going to the practice for a free visit with a TCO
These activities all have a cost (mainly time) but will have no financial value, they are simply the buyer engaging in some form of activity with you as the seller.
Once an activity has occured, the buyer may move to the next level, a Resource Tie.
Resource Ties
This is the final stage of the relationship building process and is ultimately the destination. Resource ties could include:
  1. Commiting to read a blog every time it is published
  2. Coming to the practice for treatment
  3. Purchasing other goods/services
The key aspect to remember is that we all go through this process each time we commit to buy anything that is High Credence (we can’t fully evaluate) and High Involvement (non-impulse purchases). We will always go through Actor Bonds, Activity Links and Resource Ties.

Now this is where Twitter and Facebook come in, they are both ideal opportunities to work on these 3 areas:

  1. Actor Bonds – where you went on holiday, personal likes/dislikes, interests, hobbies. If buyers can identify with you through this personal information they are more likely to like you.
  2. Activity Links – Sharing links and other useful resources. Twitter is especially good for this. Once buyers click on the link they engage in an activity
  3. Resource Ties – Committing to read your blog posts each week OR coming to the practice and spending money

People won’t move directly to the Resource Tie stage unless they have moved through the previous 2 stages, I recommend spreading your Facebook and Twitter posts across these 3 areas fairly equally.

Many practice I see focus FAR too much on the Resource Tie section and don;t spend enough time working on the relationship by developing Actor Bonds and Activity Links.

…. so stop selling and start engaging!

(1) Hakansson, H. & Snehota, I. (eds.) (1995)  Developing Relationships in Business
Networks. London: Routledge

This entry was posted in relationship marketing on by .

About Mark Oborn

Mark is the only person in Digital Dental Marketing to have a Masters Degree in Business (MBA) majoring in marketing & creativity plus have run a dental laboratory for 14 years and been working in dentistry for 23 years as a dental technician. He's also a Master Practitioner of the communication modelling system, Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) as well as being a Master Practitioner of Hypnosis and a Master NLP Coach. Mark understands business, dentistry and communication making him the logical choice to help with your digital dental marketing.

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