Social media … the conversation starter. Really? Haven’t we always talked to customers, potential customers and even those that probably will not become customers but want to pick our brains? We have always talked and now with some shiny new tools we freeze. We do not know what to say, we become unsure and wait to be reactionary and respond rather than starting and generating the conversation. Why? Fear that what we are putting out there will be seen by the masses. Hmh. Think about that for a minute. Seen by the masses. Traditional advertising albeit was directed to a target market but it is seen by the masses. You were talking to them in a manner where they could not talk back to you but yet they were talking to other consumers. That should scare you more than being able to talk to them one on one.
Starting a Conversation
Starting a conversation with someone you do not know is not easy. We think um … who are you, oh no are you going to try and sell me, are you going to be overbearing and talk about you? Appearance and body language comes into play here as when we see someone who looks disheveled, sweaty, nervous, unattractive, we cringe. Online is not very different as we are unsure of the person trying to talk to us, we want an avatar of a person and not a logo. We want to see the person so we can feel a connection. For some, they see it as a mathematical equation of influence to see if you are someone they should respond to and focus on. The mindset of if you have low followers, you will not do anything for me. As much as many of us gasp at this, we see it all the time.
The Association Conversation
I see the same people each day at the same time and many do not even talk to one another. Some are fiddling with their phone, some are standing a distance away, some bring a tag-along that they talk to and some stand in silence with a lean hoping someone will notice them and talk. We have something very special to us in common. We are dropping off and picking up our children at kindergarten. Five days a week at the same time we meet but yet are so distanced that it is actually unnerving. Me, I try and talk. That is just the way I am (ok truth be told, I avoid the one guy who touches people and wears too much cologne). I try to get the conversation going and bring us all together and so far I have not created that sense of trust and belonging. We are all there, share a common ground as we love our kids and love to gush about them but yet we are focused on different things. The door is open here but yet so many close it. Sound familiar?
Having something to talk about through association seems easy but yet we know it is not. Marketing people offline can talk for hours but yet online it is a struggle sometimes. Why? Do we live in the WIIFM? Are we seeing these platforms as a barrier or as an uncertainty? In real life are we more stopping and making time to talk and when we are online we are afforded the luxury of responding when we get around to it? Have we grown accustomed to simply clicking a “like” button and that has become our new means of conversing? I hope not.
What Conversations Are YOU Creating?
Social media is about generating and creating conversations to get to know people. Yes, get to know people. Social media is not a new conversation as we have always talked. Talk to people to create relationships that create a community around you of people that you admire and want to get to know better and those that admire you and want to get to know you better. Sounds great but, how do we create a conversation? As small business you have always had a conversation with customers or you would not be in business. Small businesses should be taking the lead in social media as this is old hat but yet the “I do not know what to say” comes into play.
Start by asking questions that elicit a response. If you are a car company, ask what their greatest or worst experience has been on a long drive. You are not asking about their experience in your car, if you have educational products, ask about taking their kids to school (esp. the first day of kindergarten – we always remember that tearful day of sending our kids off to big kid school), if you are a restaurant, about the best or worst service, if you are a consultant their biggest challenge they face in hiring a consultant. It is endless how you can start a conversation.
Reactionary to Conversations
We see people posting on Twitter all the time an update that we think they forgot to @ someone. No, they are trying to get a response to start a conversation. Jump in. If they do not respond, so be it. See if they have a blog and comment, if there is a hashtag, follow it, and reach out to people that way. There are conversations all day long that you can be a part of and not start. You have to be a part of the conversation and a conversation starter for people to talk to you. Remember, people will not buy without talking. Whether that be to the brand or to a friend, they are needing that reassurance before they buy. Sure, there are some that perform a search, go to a site, trust it (run away for a bit looking for reviews) and then buy without necessarily talking. That happens but not as often as many would like.
So, are you starting conversations or waiting for the opportunity to come to you? You still unsure, let’s talk about it as I thrive on building communities, connecting people and will get you talkin’.
photo credit: Jack Teagle