Most “cat and mouse” relationships are compared to dating, because dating can be equal parts frustrating and confusing, yet incredibly rewarding once you meet that special someone. With that said, no other courtship is more analogous to dating than a brand’s hunt for consumers. Here’s everything those brands should keep in mind as they seek to win the hearts of consumers on social media:

The first date:

For brands, discovering a target audience on social media is no different than matching with someone on Tinder—once you find someone special, you have to do your homework. Social listening is key. Just as you’d review a person’s online bio before going on that first date, it’s important to know what your target audience is looking for before you take any major steps toward a relationship.

This can’t be stressed enough. It may be the most crucial step in your journey together. As a brand, once you match with your audience and you know what they’re looking for, you can speak directly to their needs and set yourself apart from your competitors—there’s always someone looking to swoop in and ruin a happy home.

Love rivals, a.k.a the “other” brand:

To avoid heartache, the best way for a brand to stand out and connect with consumers is to follow the golden rule: always be yourself. But that doesn’t mean you should lose track of everyone else. You should be aware of any and all home-wrecking brands on the prowl. Competitor benchmarking is always necessary.

What you and your consumer have now is puppy love. The better you understand the environment surrounding you both, the clearer they’ll see you for who you really are as a brand, and the quicker you’ll see a return on your investment.

Going steady:

Any relationship therapist will tell you consistency is a must when maintaining a connection. To hold onto a consumer, brands have to spice things up every now and then to keep things interesting.

If things get too stale, your partner will lose interest, and maybe even find another brand to keep them warm at night. It’s important to steadily engage them throughout your relationship. You found them through social media, so talk to them through social media.

Respond to their tweets, share their memes, and like their posts—most importantly, reward them for their companionship. In theory, that reward is a date, but in reality, it’s a loyalty program.

If you show them you care, your audience will love you until you give them a reason not to.

If you screw up:

Brands are clumsy and consumers are fickle. You’ll slip up eventually, and that’s okay. Maybe you did the wrong thing, or said the wrong thing—or maybe you just weren’t listening. Take Uber’s latest predicament for example. Had they listened more attentively to their customers, they would have been able to anticipate how furious the average Uber patron would be with their decision to undercut the JFK taxi strike in response to President Trump’s muslim ban.

But they were aloof, and had to enter crisis management mode as a consequence once #DeleteUber started trending on Twitter.

Sensing trouble in paradise, Lyft, Uber’s most aggressive competitor, pounced and pledged to donate $1 million to the American Civil Liberties Union, hoping to woo a few of Uber’s exes.

But ultimately, you can’t buy love—you have to earn it. Earlier this month, Travis Kalanick, Uber’s CEO, earned some love back by releasing a statement saying earlier today I spoke briefly with the President about the immigration executive order and its issues for our community.”

In addition, Kalanick made sure to cut any remaining ties to the President, stating “I also let him know that I would not be able to participate on his economic council. Joining the group was not meant to be an endorsement of the President or his agenda but unfortunately it has been misinterpreted to be exactly that.”

Essentially, Uber was caught cheating on its spouse, and felt the backlash of a nasty hashtag and a night on the couch. But they made it right, and escaped the dog house. After all, it is a great customer care practice to “hug your haters,” as author Jay Baer puts it, given that some new haters are old scorned lovers.

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