Anders Orsander
March 11, 2015

Relationships: The Prime Directive of Social Media

There are many posts with tips on tools, methods and metrics to study. They are aimed at getting big results. There is one catch though. They guarantee about as much as “Do this to make someone fall in love with you.” The measure of any tip, however, is the strength of the genuine relations you build.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for tips, tools and methods. I find many posts helpful and inspiring. I find many tools useful. But your Social Media efforts need your personality and soul to become effective. That’s what this post is about — the human factor in social media.

Invest Time – Build Relationships

Relations and human interactions are the core and essence of social media. There is no social media without them. There are no shortcuts around it. That’s why I call it the prime directive (any Trekkie knows the implication of this).

Do you have social media accounts for your brand? Let people know who the individual(s) posting and responding are. This adds necessary personality to your accounts and pages.

Tools and tips can save you time, making you more efficient. Use that time to get to know people. Read their bio and about page. Ask a question based on the information you discover. Comment on blog posts, start a dialogue.

Building relations takes time. It takes work getting to know each other and how you both can benefit from interacting. However, investing in relations pays off. More than ever, commerce is about knowing your customers and providing a great consumer experience. Call it the “mom and pop” concept; the company that personalizes the patron’s journey gets their business. Nurturing relationships in all spheres is important. For example, I had invested several years in building relations before it yielded dividends in the form of full-time work as Manager of Social Media and Communication.

But the real benefits are all the connections I’ve made with awesome people around the world. That’s why my first advice, my prime directive is: invest in relations. I will show you how to make time for this.


  • Invest in relations.
  • Take the time to get to know people. This will provide opportunities.
  • Let people know the people handling your brand pages.

Automate with humanity intact

Humanity-Technology-ConnectionAutomation is a double-edged sword. It can save you a lot of time. But it can also make you distant and absent. For instance, I don’t send automated DM’s to people who follow me on Twitter. Every time I tweet or DM to a person, I write it myself. It adds personality.

I like to send a thank you for a follow on Twitter. First, I read the bio of the person. Then, I like to send them a question. I don’t always get an answer. But a simple query often initiates an interesting dialogue.

Tools like IFTTT and Buffer are excellent, as long as you don’t use them to take your presence and personality out of social media. You must be there to meet, greet and get to know others.

The goal of automation is not to post as much as possible on every network you’re on. The aim is to use the tools to make time for dialogue and interaction. The value of automation is that it frees you to spend more quality-time on social networks.

Some inspiring and time-saving tools

  • Buffer – Schedule your posts.
  • Chime – Get notifications on your screen.
  • IFTTT – A wide range of time-saving automation.
  • Triberr – Connect with others in your area of expertise, receive great content and share your own.
  • Feedly – Collect your feeds. Share or Buffer them.
  • Savepublishing – A simple tool to tweet almost anything.

Save time by having routines

When are you going to fit your social media into your schedule? It should not just be an afterthought, it should be central to your business. Find the time when you can incorporate it into your daily routine.

Now you have a basic setup for your social media presence. You have automation in place. And a daily routine when you’re on social media to update, respond and schedule posts. Experiment, have fun. Find out what works for you.

I recommend that you get into a routine for your social media presence. Set aside time for updating, responding, scheduling and catching up on your feeds. I sold my car a few years ago, and I did a lot of social media while commuting via public transportation. That’s my routine. A 2014 study found that 40% of young adults do social media in the bathroom. Obviously, that routine works for many people.

The benefit of having a routine is that it guarantees your presence in social media on a daily basis. It also helps you to relax about not being online all the time. It makes you more efficient and gives you focus.


  • Your social media presence is the combination of the time you spend online, including scheduled and automated posts.
  • A routine helps you to have a daily presence with a focus. This saves you time.
  • Find out what routines work for you.

Make social the prime directive

According to OED social comes from Latin socius, meaning friend. Media (plural of medium) originally Get-Social_a-caroline-temple-original-image_10.30.12-1024x798denoted something intermediate in nature. The literal meaning is middle. Therefore, the meaning of social media is about friendships, relations and that which connects us.

Make social (friendship)  your prime directive.

“The Prime Directive is not just a set of rules. It is a philosophy, and a very correct one.”
The fictional captain Jean-Luc Picard

Being social goes above and beyond your business strategy. Being social is the philosophy that penetrates your business strategies and policies.

This brings us to the point of selling. When people get to know and trust your expertise, they will ask for it. They will ask for you. The effect of being social is the opportunity to sell. In fact, studies show that 74% of customers choose sales reps that add value first.

So, let’s get social. Say hello. And share your thoughts about building relations in social media in a comment below.


Image attribution: Copyright: ‘‘ / 123RF Stock Photo

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Anders is a Digital Marketing Officer at United Bible Societies. He specializes in building personal connections and relations in social media. His experience covers the local perspective in his parish and the global, being part of the global mission team at United Bible Societies. Anders experience of social media began in the mid 90s on chat forums and guestbooks.

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