When most businesses and non-profits start using social media, they start with small talk with their communities. They politely reply to tweets, express appreciation to donors, respond as quickly as possible to customer support issues, and generally try to add value to their network.
But all too often, they fail to move beyond the small talk and create meaningful discussions that their communities are dying to have.
Then, after a few months pass, they express some level of disillusionment about the value of social media for their business, and eventually retreat to passive monitoring and pleasant tweeting with current fans. Meanwhile, the board members wonder why being nice wasn’t enough.
My clients are often surprised when I first ask them: “So, what are you going to talk about with your customers?”
They’ve spent resources building up their profiles and blogs and have spent a few weeks tweeting and replying to comments. But when I ask this question, they get a little confused. “Well, we’re responding to comments and answering questions that folks have on Twitter. We think we’re being responsive and engaged. Aren’t we?”
It’s more than small talk. I’m seeing organizations starting to understand that there’s more to engagement than simply talking. And that when folks are truly engaged, the community blows the bugle, not the company.
The American Cancer society has a great conversation strategy. They’ve created an entire community around achieving victory over cancer by talking about “creating a world with more birthdays.” These conversations are both engaging and meaningful because they touch on a basic desire we all have: To celebrate a happy life.
Share Our Strength has one of the most passionate communities I’ve met. They care profoundly about the stake that they’ve planted deeply in the ground: End childhood hunger by 2015. This mission is immediate, heartfelt and simply stated. It’s the prime point of their conversation strategy. Continue reading