Conversation Starters for the Uninitiated

A lot of buzz in social media today is around generating conversations, but what the heck does “conversation” even mean?

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Originally published on EdgeTheory.com

A lot of buzz in social media today is around generating conversations– it’s no secret that this is definitely the business EdgeTheory is in.

So what the heck does “conversation” even mean? I mean, we’ve only got 140 characters on Twitter (118 if you’re including a link), and about 6 seconds of read time on Facebook. The medium isn’t really set up for a lengthy group chat. BUT. What it can do is infinitely valuable.

Any conversation is essentially a flow of information from one party to another. Social media conversations usually begin with a few Tweets or a Facebook post based on a certain topic and evolve based on your and your audience’s interest and engagement with said topic.

But what does this conversation look like, you ask? Example time:

Say you are a bank and you want to create some trust within the community. You would, of course, send out messages saying what types of accounts, rates, and services you offer, and what makes you awesome/different.

BUT you also want to have solid “filler” messages too. Like how to manage personal finances, tips and advice for small businesses, explaining the jargon a lot of finance companies use, and anything else that tickles your fancy.

Do not mistake “filler” for meaning “cheap” or “optional.” Filler is what’s actually useful to your audience and in turn valuable to you. Filler is what they keep coming back for, not to hear about how low your low-rate mortgages are or your fabulous customer service. At best, those topics are boring and at worst they come across as a narcissistic monologue.

Beyond publishing valuable content, you also want to be engaging with others, retweeting and replying to  members of your community, both businesses and individual movers and shakers. Congratulate them on accomplishments, compliment their product/service/achievement. Respect the competition (Read as: Do not ignore them). Show that you care about your community and your community will care about you.

To keep with the bank analogy, think of social media as a long-term investment in your future by establishing a portfolio of relationships through engagement with your audience now.

But what about creating my own content, and what about this magical engagement of which you speak, you ask? Good questions and good topics for later posts. Guess you’ll just have to come back for more.

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