Why Conversation Trumps Monologues on Social Media

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I’m going to level with you: I’m frustrated. Why? I make my living managing social media accounts for OpticsPlanet.com, and I love to come up with clever new ways to reach people and see what other companies come up with. But lately I keep seeing amazing companies fail miserably on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. I’m not going to name names, but if you take a quick look at some of the world’s biggest brands you’ll notice they only get half of their social media marketing right. They ask interesting questions and provide humorous or thought provoking material to get the conversation started.

But then they stop. The conversation ends. There’s no follow up or appreciation for fans who comment or like their posts. A little later they start another conversation in which they have no intention of partaking.

Would you want to talk to someone who does this to you?

This approach is very old-school marketing. I, the marketer, tell you what to do. “Buy this.” “Enter our contest.” “Sign up for my newsletter.” And that’s it. You do it.

But social media is about dialogue, and dialogues have a give and take. The best thing about the back and forth is that it makes for great conversations.

A great example of how I was able to leverage dialogue came up in the last week. I posted a picture of a firearm from a recent trade show, and asked our fans which of the rifle scopes we sell they would use on that gun. I received around twenty or thirty comments in the first half hour, which was less than I’d hoped for. So I responded to almost every comment. I asked follow up questions about why a fan picked one scope over another, or if their choice was for military or hunting purposes. Not everyone responded back, but enough did to boost the comment total to over 120. Even though I accounted for about a third of those comments the number of people who saw the post skyrocketed. Facebook looks at how well a post engages fans and promotes those posts that do the best. By having an old fashioned conversation with fans I was able to personalize OpticsPlanet and spread a post to a larger number of people. I’m sure you can see why I didn’t ask the question and walk away.

So step down from the soapbox, shake some hands and have a conversation. 

Brian Coughlin is an SEO analyst for OpticsPlanet.com, the leading Internet retailer for technical and high performance gear. His passion for social media engagement and search engine dominance helped OpticsPlanet rank in 2012 on the Social Media Top 300 by Internet Retailer.

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