It is often said in social media that content is king, of course content is important but, if we leave it at that, we are falling into the trap of reverting to traditional advertising mentality. Content can get attention, it can make people aware of you and your organization, but, by itself, it is not social media. Pushing out nothing but content is like an advertorial, newsletter, radio spot, or an infomercial; unless you consider the consumer talking to the TV or radio as conversation. We use the word social, because there is conversation. To reduce it to the ridiculous, envision going to a networking event in person, practicing what you do on Social Media. If all you did was feed out “content” (info about yourself), without listening to what others are saying, responding to those asking questions, and thanking those supporting you and your business, you’d be viewed as quite the narcissistic jerk. Well companies who practice content only marketing seem the same way.
This past weekend, I took my wife to Orlando for a romantic get away, and we stayed at her favorite hotel. The hotel had posters saying connect with us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. Well being the Social Media guy I am, of course I reached out, I checked in and I tweeted Instagram pictures tagging them in them all, I even spread some activity on some of my company owned accounts (the potential of company accounts is over 250k followers) which boils down to a good opportunity for them to engage a fan in conversation and get an incredible plug. On review I noticed their accounts were much like a narcissistic youngster, talking about themselves and not really talking to anyone. On the other hand, another local hotel that I like, the Postcard Inn on St. Pete Beach (@PCIStPete) seems to know whenever I mention them, and they understand the value of conversation. By talking to those who talk to you or about you, you demonstrate a higher level of willingness to satisfy the customer, keep in mind your conversation is being witnessed by anyone paying attention, making it part of your content. Have intelligent conversations that are not only meant for the person you are talking to, but also for those lurkers who are watching the conversation take place. Above all, people don’t care what you know, until they know you care…having a conversation with them is your opportunity to show them you care, use the opportunity.
Now that we’ve established the value of conversation, the next question is how do we carry on a conversation in front of the world with individuals, or how do we find people to have conversations with? First, you need to “listen” (Remember God gave you two ears and one mouth, so you can listen twice as much as you speak), I use tools like SproutSocial, Hootsuite and Bottlenose to create search lists and lists following my “Twitter Lists” (some other tools I like for watching conversations) There are other new tools being developed like Meshfire that help you by suggesting who you should be engaging with. By observing the conversations about topics that interest me, or conversation by the people who interest me, it is like being at that networking event and listening to a group of people, people I want to connect with, and looking for opportunities to add to the conversation, or for a problem or challenge that I can offer a solution to. It should go as a given to listen for people talking about you, your brand or your industry, and again look for opportunities to engage. Now if you are going to engage, don’t be like the high end restaurant that I chose to take my wife to for lunch, the responded to my Tweet letting them know we saw an awesome picture of their place, and were coming over for lunch. They responded 3 days after the fact, looking forward to seeing you, it made them look like they were not really paying attention to me. Time matters, responding to late puts you at the risk of disappointing the consumer, after their experience, they would have been better asking did we live up to your expectations, which they did.
In closing, content is good and important, but it serves the purpose of starting the conversation, what you do once that conversation starts will dictate how you are perceived by your past, current and future customers.