One of the greatest things about Social Media is the conversations you can have. If there is a subject or topic that you are passionate about, chances are you can find someone in the Social Media sphere that is equally passionate. Watching the stream, I can easily find a dozen different conversations happening that I can dive into and share my opinion.
How can this work for business? If you are representing a brand or a company, jumping into a conversation can be a dangerous. Say the wrong thing and you can open up a can of worms that you may not be able to close. You must moderate the conversation.
When I am talking with business owners about their Social Media, I always suggest changing up their content. Never stick with talking about just your brand or your product. Throw in some humour, some local content, etc. When starting a conversation that you want other to engage in, however, it should be relevant to your brand, business or industry. Why? Because conversations are fluid and can often take on a mind of their own, and you want to be sure that, regardless of where it goes, the topic is always relevant to your business or brand.
For instance, a car dealer starting a conversation about “what’s your favourite place to drive” can easily divert into conversations about tourism or communities and completely leave out the part that the car dealer wanted to be talking about: driving. However, starting a conversation about the pros and cons of digital technology in vehicles today can open up a wide conversation and never actually leave the intended topic of vehicles and technology.
Lead and Moderate the Conversation
The goal of creating and moderating a conversation, especially in your company Facebook account, is to have the conversation where your company name/brand is visible but the content is created and shared by those from outside the company. It is like inviting people into your showroom to have a conversation and they in turn invite others to the showroom to participate as well. You move the conversation forward with questions and comments of your own but, at the same time, allow the conversation to remain fluid and go where it will. By entering into it, now and then, those participating know that you are watching and listening and, most important, they know they are being heard.
Reference Your Followers
More than anything else, consumers like to know that that they have been heard and that you, as a business owner, are taking what they say to heart. If you see a post with a suggestion or idea that has real value, engage that person in a conversation, perhaps even using their ideas, thoughts or suggestions as a topic of conversation. This type engagement gives a positive vibe for your brand with the consumer, helping build relationships and potential advocates of your product or service.
Don’t Be So Serious
The best stuff on Social Media is always the stuff that makes you laugh or feel good. A brand or company does not always have to be serious or directed in the online conversation. A little silly, now and then, puts a more “in reach” feel for the consumer. In watching the conversations around your brand or industry, find the humourous side and engage that as well. Companies, such as WestJet, have built fun into their overall customer experience and that has translated well for them in Social Media too.
Some tips for moderating a conversation:
- Pick a topic that is current around your brand or industry, and not out-of-the-blue
- Avoid the controversial topics, as they never go well. If the company or brand wants to take a stand on a certain subject, ensure that your stand is well thought out and supportable.
- When using humour, keep it light. Avoid hot topics or dark humour. Stick to things that will be funny to all, not some.
- Avoid the fight. If a conversation goes south on you, for any reason, bow out gracefully. Never, NEVER, get into it with a consumer online. If there is one place with the phrase “the customer is always right” works (even when they are not) it is in Social Media.