Carrie(d) Away

It's a play on words. Get it?

25 Apr

Generating Online Conversations

Just a few years ago, if you passed someone on the street and asked them for the definition of “hashtag” or “tweet,” you’d witness a variety of confused faces. In the rise of social media, knowledge of social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, and countless others have become something that employers look for. Businesses are now widening their focus to creating and maintaining Facebook pages, making product-specific Pinterest boards and pages, and sending quick Twitter updates under 140 characters or less. A strong social media presence creates a direct link between a company and their clientele. How does one keep up with the ever-so-changing social media market? It starts with being informed. One of the most important tasks for a business is to create and maintain an online relationship with their community. This means that posting, blogging, tweeting, and pinning on a regular basis is vital. Posts that are intriguing to a reader often receive quick, and sometimes instantaneous, feedback. This creates a give-and-take conversation, which is the most integral piece to the social media puzzle. Ensuring that this back-and-forth conversation happens? Well, that’s the tricky part. Here are five tips to help you (and I) grasp the idea of how to do just that. 

1. Generate a lot of content. This doesn’t mean posting every ten seconds on twitter about what you ate for breakfast, or posting pictures of you and your neighbor’s dog. This just means that you are working on creating an online presence, by simply being accessible to your followers and users. I’d say that it would be appropriate to post something a few times a day— just not all at once, or in a row. Generating a decent amount of content on a daily basis attracts users to see what you are up to. 

2. Post a variety of content. Let’s say you are a retail business looking to get more followers on Facebook. Do they ONLY want to see photos of your product? I’d be willing to say that they might want to see photos, videos, or promotions as well. I think it is important to integrate all sorts of media content, creating more of an appeal to a variety of people. As a visual person, I am drawn to the photos or the videos. But maybe not everyone works that way. Be aware of what you’re posting, and be sure that there is something that appeals to everyone’s individual tastes. 

3. Listen. I like the way that Charlene Kingston at socialmediaDIYworkshop.com explains this. “Spend some time each day reading what other people are sharing on social media. Jump into existing conversations, or reply to something posted. It’s important that you add something to the conversation, and don’t simply agree or like what they said.” It is vital to listen to what people are saying, and especially important to comment and make them feel like the time they took to post was worthwhile. 

4. Ask questions. It seems that people who are asked a specific question are more likely to answer or post a response. Often, a good formula to remember is to write an interesting and interactive statement, and then follow it up with a question. People are more likely to respond when being flat-out asked. For example, Target’s most recent Facebook post follows this exactly. “Princess Week Name Generator: Use your Grandma’s first name, your pet’s name, and the street you grew up on. What’s your princess name?” They have 4,242 comments, and it was posted yesterday. 

5. Encourage fan-to-fan responses. I like problogger.net’s approach. “Your Facebook business community will get much better if you have fans talking to each other, and the best way to do this is by putting the spotlight on those very fans. One way you can do this is by creating a “Fan of the Week” post to recognize top contributors to the community. But if you have a Facebook fan base like Bare Escentuals you can take a hands-off marketing approach, and still get fans to talk to each other.” 

There are so many different tactics that one could take to ensure quick and consistent response, but the best advice I have? Just be present, interactive, and people will respond to that.