Don’t Start Conversations Online, Do This Instead

September 13, 2015

I know what you’re thinking.

How can a company with a tagline of “Think Conversation, Not Campaign™” have a headline like that?!

Yes, at B Squared Media we’re always pushing you to start conversations, to focus on the dialogue more than the data.

But when you’re too focused on starting conversations, you may lose out on other critical conversational strategies.


Engage In Conversation Instead Of Starting One

We’re not knocking the conversation starter.

What we’re saying is that many times we take the easy route of talking about ourselves or specifically to our audiences … and then get stuck in that little bubble.

We forget that part of community management is growing our community and that we need to look outside of our comfortable walls to engage with new potential fans, followers, and buyers.

How do you do that? By engaging in conversations that are already taking place!

Issues you may face with trying to start conversations online:

  • Often times when you’re just getting started on social, you’ll try to start a conversation and hear crickets (aka: get no response)
  • With organic reach feeling like that itchy wool sweater you got from Nana at Christmas, fans of Facebook pages are only seeing 0-6% (yes, ZERO) of your organic messages or conversation starters
  • If you’re pushing out crappy content, it’s going to be hard to garner engagement (sorry, but someone had to say it!)
  • “Conversations” sparked from sharing memes and quotes are chatter, not real conversation (clichés versus deeper psychographics, like opinions and feelings)

If the issues above feel familiar or frightening, don’t fret.

We’ve got some simple to implement tips for joining already-in-progress conversation below.

How To Start Conversations Online By Engaging

Is that as clear as mud?

By engaging in “already there” conversations, you can gain awareness and possibly create an opportunity to start your own conversation.

Here are 10 tips for joining relevant conversations online:

  1. Notice the word relevant in the sentence above. Don’t waste time talking about cats unless your company has something to do with cats. Use relevant keywords to see what conversations are taking place and then …
  2. LISTEN. I wish this were first on the list, but relevance kinda matters. Once you zone in on a few conversations taking place online, take the temperature of the conversation and decide if you want to join in.
  3. See if you can add value to the conversation by answering questions, giving stellar advice or recommending a tool or template that may save the participants time.
  4. Don’t be afraid to go your own way and give constructive criticism. Trust me, we know when you’re being helpful and when you’re being cryptic or talking about someone without “talking about someone.”
  5. Ask thoughtful and for-real questions within an ongoing conversation to see if any possible community members stick out.
  6. Share curated content on the subject, not just your own. Have you ever been in a LinkedIn Group conversation and seen members do nothing but answer questions with a link to their own site/content? Ick.
  7. Know when to shut up. No one likes a know it all OR a contrarian.
  8. Did someone share your content or mention you online? Take it beyond thanks. Use this as a way to start a conversation.
  9. Similar to #1, use relevant hashtags to see what topics are trending around your industry.
  10. One of the best conversations I joined was based on a compliment I got on my Twitter handle (@madSMscientist). It’s easy to peruse the bio’s of those involved in a chat and pick out something that aligns with you — just be genuine.

How do you start conversations online OR find already-happening conversations to engage in? We’d love to know! Give us your awesome sauce tips by dropping us a line in the comments section below.

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