One of the biggest issues I’ve noticed while observing brands’ presence on social media today is that they lack manners — digitally speaking. It's always “retweet this” and “like that” without providing any real incentive for bothering to do so. Imagine if your friend invited you to a party, but when you showed up, there was no music, drinks or food. And on top of that, he expected you to go tell everyone what a great time you had. See the disconnect there?
Brands need to understand that being a good host and conversationalist is the most important part of receiving good feedback and inspiring others to talk about you positively. That said, the following rules of thumb are good to keep in mind when considering interactions online (or in-person), especially when formulating a social media strategy.
Be a Good Listener
The most important part of carrying on a good conversation is listening to what’s being said to you. When applying this rule to brands, they should be listening across social networks with tools like Sysomos or Salesforce. Moreover, they should be paying attention to the subtext (or sub-tweets, as the case may be). What are people saying without directly stating? This is one of the more subtle aspects of conversation and social analytics: identifying and applying contextual data.
Another important aspect of being a good conversationalist is listening more than you’re talking: the worst discussions involve people simply waiting for their turn to speak. As a brand, you should recognize that conversation is not a competitive sport comprised of volleying the “my turn to talk” ball back and forth.
Don’t Just Cater to the Cool Kids
The numerous listening tools available make it a simple task for brands to identify top influencers. The Klout of these individuals makes their recommendations more valuable on the surface, but this factor should only be one consideration when planning a social strategy.
While certain people may have earned many followers, the value of their own connections can be difficult to ascertain. A better strategy is to divide your attention equitably across your social base, creating valuable conversations that rise to the top regardless of individual clout (based on the content of the conversation rather than the individuals involved). It’s pretty obvious when you’re playing to the cool kids, and you may be turning off lower-profile members of your target audience.
Just Talking About Yourself Is Not Interesting
While working some of your own news into the conversation is perfectly normal, keep in mind that people do not want to attend a bragfest. What makes you interesting is a broad range of news framed within your own insights and commentary that actually contributes to the discussion. Finding unusual content and shedding light on cutting-edge projects makes you a resource that people want to interact with.
It’s also useful to recognize characteristics specific to social media that make it ideal for connecting with consumers on a mass scale. For example, while talking with someone in person requires undivided attention, the benefit of social media is that you can maintain multiple conversations at once. It’s one of the few instances when multitasking isn’t rude, so take advantage of this capability and engage on a broader level.
Most importantly, remember to entertain. After all, nothing will kill your social reputation faster than a boring party. Take some risks, put yourself out there and create a persona worth paying attention to.