Have you ever received a message from a brand in response to something you posted online? Would that make you want to support the brand more in the future?
I had dinner in San Francisco recently during a business trip at a favorite Italian place of mine called The Stinking Rose. I was happy to be there with my wife. We arrived and were seated within a few minutes. While we waited, I checked-in on Foursquare and posted the check-in on Twitter with a personal note about how much I loved the place.
By the time we left the restaurant, I had received a note on Twitter from The Stinking Rose (@TheStinkingRose, to be precise) thanking me for checking in and asking me to share my experience. I replied with my appreciation for a good meal and they replied again, welcoming additional feedback on Yelp and Google+.
I share this experience to illustrate three simple points:
1. Listening is the most important thing you should do with social media. Businesses, organizations and individuals can use social media tools to increase their awareness of what people are saying about them, and reach out where appropriate.
2. Engaging means a lot more than publishing. It’s important to share news and information and link to it on various social media channels. This approach certainly helps optimize your content for search placement. It’s even more important to respond to others and participate with them in the online conversation. Note the use of the word participate: it’s altogether different from the idea of controlling the conversation.
3. Linking activity on various platforms, like Foursquare, Twitter, Yelp and Google+, deliver the most bang for the buck. Chances are, if your audience is using a social platform, you’ll find them on a handful of different platforms. Ask for feedback and find out how your audience wants to hear from you, then oblige them.
Never before have corporate communicators had so many tools with which to foster conversations. You may choose to ignore the tools, but doing so will increasingly place you at a competitive disadvantage.
Top photo from webtreats.mysitemyway.com