Why social media is all about content, connection, and conversation. Luan Wise walks through the best ways to make social media more ‘social’
When Mark Zuckerberg announced an overhaul of the Facebook newsfeed in early 2018 to prioritise ‘meaningful social interactions’, he said that “the balance of what’s in the newsfeed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do – help us connect with each other.”
So, how do we use social media to meaningfully interact, and connect?
Is it just about more liking and sharing?
Well, it’s a start, but it takes more than a click and a few words to be meaningful and to create a real connection.
A click is more like a nod of the head or a smile across a room – it’s nice, but there’s not really a next step to take. A social media connection, like or follow is just a number until there’s a conversation.
Don’t just post and run
The nature of social media being available at our fingertips means it can be too easy to post and run. To click on some buttons, post a short update and move on with the day having now ‘done some social media’.
We know, particularly in B2B, that people do business with people they know, like and trust. Therefore, we need to have conversations to build relationships and trust. We need to put the ‘social’ into social media. We need to
that does not just broadcast but creates conversations. We need to be helpful. We need to show, not tell and sell.
Put to one-side the content you’re posting on social media and take some time to look at the huge volume of content that’s already out there. The opportunity to start a conversation already exists, if you look for it.
Here are just a few ideas.
How to use social media platforms
1. All platforms – new followers
While I’m not suggesting that you respond to all new followers, particularly on busier platforms such as Twitter and Instagram where the connection does not need to be ‘accepted’, it is important to look at how your audience is building and to respond to new followers that present an opportunity for conversation.
Perhaps it’s someone you met at a recent event, perhaps it’s someone you haven’t met yet, but wanted to. It takes two minutes to send a quick message to a new follower. It will be appreciated.
2. LinkedIn – connection requests
If I receive a connection request from someone I don’t know, it’s unlikely that I will ignore it completely. If it’s from someone who appears to meet the criteria of my target audience, or that we might have a common interest I will reply, before connecting.
I batch my time to respond to connection requests and adapt a template that starts with: “Thanks for the connection request. I don’t think we’ve met in person (forgive me if we have).” and I ask ‘why’?
If I get a response, it’s always positive and starts a conversation and understanding of how we can add value to each other’s worlds. If there’s no response, then I was right not to go ahead and click accept!
I wish more connection requests were personalised in the first instance, so I could reply without asking ‘why’, but at least this way I don’t miss any potential opportunities. And, if I do receive a personalised connection request I don’t just click on the accept button and carry on. I will respond with a short message that starts with ‘Thank you for the connection request.’
3. LinkedIn – who’s viewed my profile
A key feature of a LinkedIn premium account is that you can see everyone who has viewed your profile (with a free account only the last five viewer details are available). If it’s an existing connection and we haven’t been in touch for a while I may send a short message suggesting a catch-up. If it’s a view from someone I’m not yet connected to I will try to initiate a conversation by messaging:
4. LinkedIn – birthdays
I read many complaints about the birthday notifications on LinkedIn. Who’s interested?
I’ve tested this over the past couple of years and have found I receive a number of birthday messages… usually from connections that I’m not in regular contact with. And each year I’ve responded to the message with a ‘thanks, how are you doing, we must catch up’ message. The result is meetings and new business.
I also send birthday messages – not to every connection – but to a fair few. They’re a useful trigger for remembering to get back in touch, and what better opportunity than to start with: “LinkedIn told me it was your birthday this week; I hope you had a great day.”
5. All platforms – likes, shares, and comments
The click and run nature of likes and shares once again gives you an opportunity to take control and respond to continue the dialogue. Say thank you for the like/share. If people have taken the time to post a comment, respond. Start with thank you and then add something more, perhaps ask a question so the dialogue continues. This applies to posts in newsfeeds and within groups.
Make the shift from public social to
It’s critical to remember that although it is important to be visible on social media, not all conversations need to take place in public.
A public post may trigger a conversation that takes place via private messaging. In fact, I advocate private messaging in order to have a more meaningful one-to-one conversation. This also avoids the ‘beauty parade’ that can develop when a public post asks for recommendations.
If there’s an opportunity to be spotted via social media, you can only stand out from the crowd with a private message that does more work than a ‘name drop’ that will either get ignored or requires work on the part of the person asking for recommendations.
Social media, let’s have a little more conversation, please
There are huge opportunities being missed on social media right now because we’re simply not ‘being social’. Conversation triggers are not hard to find if you’re looking for them, they are driven by content that’s already been posted (I’ll write about creating content to drive conversations another time). Schedule an extra ten minutes in your day for the next week – take a look through your newsfeed, check the notifications tab on LinkedIn, look beyond the connection and see what conversations you can have.