You’ve heard it before from the likes of us. Quality over quantity. Relationships vs. Transactions. Connections instead Followers. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: a couple thousands loyal advocates beat a hundred thousand who you never interact with at all. Doesn’t it?

It seems simpler for an individual to be selective about the community that forms around them. The topic of the ‘personal brand’ came up briefly in last week’s chat conversation – that we should take care in how we both define and describe ‘personal brand.’ The existence of personal branding might even be arguable, no? Let’s face it: shouldn’t our personal brand be simply who we are?

But for businesses and brands it is decidedly more complicated. Or is it? Joining social media and gathering ‘friends’, ‘followers’ and “likes” is so 2007. Of course, there are the hyper-brands that legitimately attract millions and millions of followers. The household names, so to speak. A precious few of those are able to establish and maintain the kind of intimacy that engenders loyalty and advocacy. For small businesses, we argue, it is just that: intimacy and advocacy, that specifically defines the value gained in marketing with social media.

Our argument may run 180 degrees from the principle of ‘influencer marketing.’ Why? Think about it: relying on some number of influential followers to champion your brand? To advocate your story? How sustainable and, for lack of a better word, controllable, is that?

We argue that we choose the members of the community that we build one at a time. Sometimes we select them, and very often they self-select as supporters of our business, brand or cause. The crux of the issue is understanding the individuals that are likely to desire what our story, our reputation, our brand represents. We submit this argument: Not every individual in the social media universe is a potential loyal follower (customer). The first lesson is building a strong loyal community of customer advocates.

How can we be selective about who joins our community? Start with clearly defined and stated values. People will recognise consonant values immediately and even unconsciously. Then, reinforce those values in all that you do. Your values ARE your brand. A unique and effective way to reinforce values is through an brand promise, which is a simple articulation of the value that you propose to customers.

So coming back around to our title for this week’s #SMXChat topic: Who we hang with, the individuals that comprise our community say a lot about us. Because they choose us, and we choose them.

Q1) Does hanging out on social media with others that share your values risk ‘group-think’?

Q2) How do you think businesses and brands should focus on connecting with an ‘ideal customer’ in social media?

Q3) How can businesses and brands avoid attracting people that do not share their values or match their ‘ideal customer’?

Q4) Can businesses and brands ‘qualify’ those that join their community? How? Should we allow dissenters?

Q5) Is it okay for businesses and brands to be selective in who joins their social communities? Why/Not?