The Art of Conversation

Author: Darlene Hull

Imagine you’re a guest at a lovely cocktail party. You see dozens of people you know – some personal friends, some co-workers and business associates, and you flitter in and out of conversations that are short, lively, entertaining, and delightful.

The next morning you show up at your local coffee bar, and see a co-worker, with whom you had a conversation the previous night at that same party, ordering coffee. You go to start up a conversation, but before you can get a word out, she turns to you and spouts, word for word, a series of phrases she used last night at the party – quick blurbs about her new shoes, the fact that her puppy peed on her sofa, she got a promotion at work, and the fact that she’s dating this hot man. You’re a little dazed. You try to probe a bit for conversation, but she darts out the door. You shake your head, order your coffee and head to work.

Half way through your morning, you head to the staff kitchen to grab a glass of water, and there’s your co-worker again. You want to probe a bit, but she’s spouting the identical lines from the party – again! You try and get her to comment on a project you’re working on, and the line about the hot guy she’s dating bursts forth, and she leaves the room.

I wouldn’t really call this conversation, would you? It might be perfectly appropriate at the cocktail party – they move quickly and pretty much any topic goes – but if you want to engage a person in conversation you want to know there’s something going on on the other end, right?

Ok, so let me bring this around to my main point.

This week alone I’ve received two invitations to social media training. Both of them are planning on showing me how to set it up so my posts are all automated, sending the same post to all my platforms at the click of a button. This is very popular these days, but I’d like to remind anyone trying to make an impact on social media that social media is about social. Conversation. Response. Give and take. The most important number on your social media stats is “engagement”. In other words, what matters is that there’s some kind of two way happening with your posts.

It’s impossible to do thorough social media marketing without scheduling things to post automatically. It’s so very important to be consistent, and relatively frequent at posting, so that you are showing up on a regular basis in people’s streams. In our busy lives this can really only happen if we do some posting ahead of time and schedule it. However, If all your posts are scheduled, and you don’t check in daily to touch base with people “live” you’re like the friend I described above. Lots of words, but nobody’s home. Also, if I’m following you on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and all your posts are identical, there’s a problem. First of all, you’re boring. Secondly you have no care or concern for the “room you’re in”. Different platforms need different kinds (and frequencies) of posting.

For example,

Twitter is a cocktail party. Here you want short, superficial conversations. The point of Twitter is to make the connection. It’s a great place to research and connect with your target market, and get seen by them by commenting and sharing what they post. On Twitter you want to be posting inspiration, questions, and bits of information – both personal and business – that get shared so that you get your name out there. The ultimate goal here is to move them from Twitter to a different platform where you can have a conversation – like Facebook or your blog. Because Twitter is so fast moving, you need to post a minimum of between 5-7 times through out the day in order to be truly visible.

Facebook is the “online Starbucks”. Your conversations here can be lengthier, they can get a little more personal in some cases, and you can share more detailed information. Facebook also needs to be very visual. Not everything you share should be a picture, but you should have 2-3 posts per day that are visually stimulating. For example, if you’re posting your blog to Facebook, make sure it has a picture on the blog post itself and then, instead of having it autoposted to your Facebook page – which just gives you a tiny thumbnail – post it manually, adding the picture in as a separate element so it really stands out. Facebook is more about conversation, so don’t pound your followers over the head by posting dozens of times a day. 3-5 done well, is plenty. Hashtags are now acceptable, but no one likes them.

LinkedIn is a networking meeting. Don’t talk about your pets, your lunch, or your new clothes here. Business only. You can bring a personal touch to your profile, but otherwise, don’t waste time here posting small talk. The status update on LinkedIn is probably happy with 3-4 posts a day – just enough to keep your name popping up regularly. Don’t forget to also participate in appropriate groups on LinkedIn for a real power-punch!

Pinterest is a scrapbooking party, where folks get together to share things they like. If you’re the kind to post dozens of pictures on Facebook, it would be better for you to switch to Pinterest as your platform. Great place to hang out if your target market is women, but more and more men and businesses are getting involved these days. Here you can post as many things as you like – this bothers no one. However, as with all platforms, consistency is the key. Don’t post thirty pictures one day, and then disappear for a month. You won’t build anything that way.

Google+ is more of a techie hangout that’s full of early adopters, but one thing is for sure, Google loves it, and if you’re there it will increase your page rank. My guess is that it might just sneak up and surprise us, replacing some of the platforms we currently know and love so well (like Facebook which is currently driving everyone crazy). Keep your eyes on this, and start getting involved so you don’t miss the boat.

If your method of social media marketing is to simply cross-post and run, you’re wasting your time, and you’re not looking too professional – or interesting.

Social media is very important to your business success. If you want to learn to do it right without driving yourself crazy, check out our workshops here: JumpStart Social Media

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