No matter the time, place, platform, or technology, having people talking about your company, products or services is a good thing period. Of course you want those conversations to be of positive conversation1nature, but if you’re doing your job in delivering a great product or service, in most cases, they are. The real question is how can you get people talking about the things you want them to talk about?
Now just to be clear, I’m not talking about telling people what to talk about. Arrogance has no place in this space. It’s about the strategies and methods to incorporate in your communities and social
spaces to facilitate mutually beneficial conversations.

Be Everywhere
The first step that any business needs to take is establishing themselves as a company that embraces community. What I mean by that is companies that have active, real people engaging with their customers on multiple channels on a regular basis. It’s not enough to just have a Facebook page or Twitter account. You have to be using those channels as true two way communication options for your customers. By answering questions, solving customer issues, and engaging in numerous conversations related to your business, you will establish trust and admiration of your customers and customers to be.

Create Community
Next you need to consider having a “controlled” community environment in your world. In other words, a community platform that lives on your site. A place that you can offer your customers/audience a place to communicate in addition to external channels. While it’s great and necessary to use the external channels, it’s important to establish yourself as a true community champion by having your own community presence. It also allows you to control the platform, and metrics making it easier to turn those conversations and data into actionable resources.  For information on how to build your own community platform inexpensively, check out my previous post on the subject.

Drive Mutually Beneficial Conversation
Once you have built that trust, it’s time to take advantage of those connections and not only participate in conversation, but create them. Let me start with a personal example.
As part of the Vanns Community Manager job application, I needed to create a 60 second video to promote myself creatively. The 2nd part of the mission was to demonstrate my ability to drive traffic, build awareness, and utilize my networks to drive views and votes of my video. So of course I tackled the usual major players, Facebook, Twitter, etc. etc. But I also didn’t want to ignore the traditional media outlets (more on that in a future post).

Rather then fire off an email to the newspapers about “my story”, I came from a special interest angle about how companies are coming up with creative ways to apply for jobs and it’s requiring applicants to do more then just sending in their cover letters and resumes. Of course I included my situation and how it applied, because while I did genuinely want the article to be more broad, I certainly wanted to benefit from being a part of the article to increase awareness of my video.

Two papers responded and one will be running the story in the next week. Both reporters explicitly said they wanted to run with the story because I pitched it from a perspective that was reader focused then just a self serving one. They also said that 90% of their story requests are all self serving most from companies.  So if you use this tactic, you’ll have a much better chance at getting a response.

The point of the story is that when you engage with your customers/audience in ways that benefit them as much as you (and often times more them then you), you are going to be in a much better position to “control” the conversations or at the very least guide them to where you want them to go.

So to recap:

  • Build your digital street cred by being where your customers are and engaging with them a lot!
  • Create an environment in your world where you customers can go, converse, and more easily allow you to use that information in ways that help you grow your business.
  • Approach conversation creation from your customers/audiences perspective. What angles will promote meaningful conversations that can benefit them as well as the business.

Good luck!