These days, social media interactions leave little room to imagination. All attempts to communicate begin with a fervent desire to introduce, promote or sell a certain product in a more or less predictable manner. While the targeted audience may change, the mechanism of social interactions remains pretty much the same: companies start rambling about the uniqueness of their products and services, instead of focusing on the real needs and demands of their potential buyers.
Perhaps this is why their act is not rewarded with a big round of applause. Savvy readers are bored of sales pitches. They want exciting, fresh, original, newsworthy facts delivered in a unique manner. Some of them are nostalgic and still think that social media should involve more than a semi-polite exchange of information. Whatever happened to those great chats that we used to have, which went beyond someone's selfish, mercantile goals?
Should You Settle for Feedback, When All You Need Is a Good Old-Fashioned Conversation?
Social conversations with a real substance seem to be on the verge of extinction. Some of the most popular blogs have a few comments, but reflect very little interaction between writers and readers. Some bloggers write back, others are just too busy measuring their own level of awesomeness. Some individuals leave a comment just to bring their own links in the public eye. This is not even proper feedback, let alone a meaningful conversation that could lead to a deeper relationship with your audience.
So how could you get people to reply to your social content? What's the secret formula for success that you need to steal and apply to get them to share, like, favorite or re-tweet your ideas? Most importantly, can you use social content to bond with your readers without being perceived as a money-hungry stalker? Let's find out.
6 Ways to Start and Maintain a Dialogue with Your Audience via Your Social Content
A great dialog with your readers should be founded on a well-balanced mix that includes premium content, common sense, empathetic thinking, politeness and a strong desire to stay relevant, engaging and helpful. Here are 6 ways in which you can convince your virtual friends to join the conversation without being cataloged as pushy or desperate.
1. Set Realistic Goals: If you're still in the initial phase in which you're making a name for yourself while building credibility and trust, don't expect to get millions of likes and shares in a split second, even if your content is truly amazing. According to Jay Baer from Convince & Convert, you should expect less without settling for less. Accept the fact that online conversations will never be perfect substitutes for face-to-face interactions and try to bond with your readers by upgrading your content and making it more palatable.
2. Humanize Your Content: If your social content makes your readers think that you are as lifeless as a mannequin from a Fifth Avenue store, now may be a good time to follow a different approach. Let the veil down and create personalized content that enables users to discover who you are, what you stand for, and most importantly, what you can do for them. Introduce yourself just like you would during a face-to-face interaction (minus the awkward gestures and long pauses). Write freely, express your enthusiasm and present your goals, brand and product features and benefits in a more spontaneous manner.
3. Be Helpful and Engaging: All your readers are wondering: what's in it for me? Aside from the fact that you let them contemplate your beautiful pictures and read the story of your life, what else are you willing to bring to the table? The key is to provide real value to your readers, before trying to convert them into buyers. If you're a blogger and you let your blog visitors admire your outfit of the day (#ootd on Instagram, in case you didn't know), tell them where they could find the products that you're flaunting with such great pride. Provide timely answers to their questions. Offer additional details to keep the conversation going. As long as you know everything about your audience and your own field of activity, you should never run out of things to say. Be witty, be friendly, but most importantly, be yourself, since everybody else is already taken.
4. Let Your Readers Hop on Board: Let your readers take control. Ask your clients, prospects and collaborators to share their ideas with you. You should create the context and come up with adequate commentary for the input that they've sent you. According to Heidi Cohen, this type of web content that resembles a collage may enable you to lift old barriers in content creation and profit from the expertise (and the level of popularity) of your favorite contributors.
5. Invest Time and Energy in Curated Content: Use interesting, trending third party web writing to make a statement. Add your comments to the original article and present it from your perspective. Don't forget to include changes in images, headline, tone and also context. Here's an extra tip: leverage the incredible power of seduction of amazing photos that are relevant to your topic and write magnetic, attention-grabbing headlines to make your visitors read the rest of the article and interact with you. According to Moz, content curation lets you organize and collect some of the most existing things that may be floating around the Internet without a lifejacket and share them for the greater good. Don't miss out on the opportunity to curate content and prove that you are a true connoisseur.
6. Use Comments as User-Oriented Social Content: Stay active on social media platforms. Share and tweet like there's no tomorrow. Monitor your readers' reaction to your messages. Feel free to extract some of the most interesting and relevant comments posted by your readers (on your blog, website or social media profiles) and include them in your next piece to prove a point. This action will reflect the fact that you care about your readers and put a high price on their opinion.
By reaching the contributor status, you followers will feel valued and stimulated to maintain a more meaningful conversation with you in the long run. At the end of the day, your mission is to dump the unnecessary baggage and make more room for your readers and their needs, desires and opinions in your own web writing.