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Six Tips For Engaging In A Social Conversation

My flight was delayed by three hours recently. Being a diligent chief marketing officer, I’d already opened up my laptop, checked the latest lead generation numbers, and reviewed the marketing budget figures. With time on my hands, I began to scroll through the social media apps on my phone.

And a thought struck me. It’s drilled into us all that marketing is about engaging with prospective buyers, grasping their attention, and inspiring their interest in our products and services.

But as I scrolled Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, it became increasingly apparent that the vast majority of organisations are using social media simply to pump out their latest product news.

It’s a one-way dialogue with no active participation and no real (two-way) social engagement. And that’s a big mistake. To be compelling, relevant and—above all—noticed, organisations need to create an emotive conversation with their audiences.

Think of it like being at a party. No one wants to be stuck with the person who only talks about themselves. We want a two-way, engaging dialogue. That way we’re far more likely to share our own thoughts and ideas with the person we’re talking to. From a CMO standpoint, that’s gold dust.

So here are some tips for how organisations can begin to create that emotive social connection and insert themselves into the centre of a social conversation and lead it.

1. Understand Who You Are Talking To.
Look at who is following you. The people who follow your organisation on social media sites are demonstrating an interest in your company. Look at what they post, and what article/blogs they are sharing. Knowledge of your audience will go a long way towards creating a meaningful two-way conversation. Ever been to that party where the guy goes on and on about golf, even though you’ve never played it? Read the audience.

2. Turn Tweets Into Conversations.
It’s been said already, but it’s worth repeating. The vast majority of social communications are one way: “We’ve launched a new car that does 65mpg” … “Our broadband is faster” … Announcements like these are top-down, one-way communication. The magic happens when social media turns into a conversation with your customers.

3. Every Picture Tells A Story.
Images offer more engagement than words. For evidence, look no further than Starbucks. When the coffee giant ran an ad explaining why their staff spelt people’s names wrongly on the cups, customers shared their own misspelling experiences by the tens of thousands.

4. Twitter Polls.
Launched last year, these are a great medium for driving engagement. Unique and interactive, they offer an opinion on a topic that your audience are more likely to empathise with and start a conversation.

5. Stay Current, Relevant, And Reply.
You have a nanosecond to make an impression on social media. Keep the content up-to-date, commenting on topical issues that resonate with audiences and that are relevant. Don’t comment on Leicester City winning the football Premiership in three months’ time, for example. And reply quickly to comments. Replying a week later to a Tweet isn’t a conversation—it’s a conversation killer.

6. Monitor And Measure.
In this world of big data analytics, it’s quick and easy to identify what channels work most effectively, the type of content that inspires conversation, and the audiences that most want to engage in a dialogue.

An effective social media strategy can attract prospective customers and generate repeat business. But ignoring social media or making a serious misstep in an interaction can inadvertently put up a “Keep Out” sign. Storytelling on social media gets your organisation noticed. Insert your organisation into the centre of the conversation and lead it. Indeed, you may even quickly be propelled into being a thought leader.

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