Conversations require people, and the purpose of social media is to empower and enable conversations digitally. Blogging, podcasting, videoblogging, and all the various social networks we use are all geared towards one thing: giving us a way to reach out and connect. With that in mind, let’s start this out right, and consider people. Let’s think about people from their perspective.
What follows are some ideas for engaging, respecting, and appreciating the people who will interact with your social media.
People Like to be Engaged
Imagine there is a choice (because there is). You can either speak AT people, or you can speak WITH people. One assumes that the other person or persons will have an opportunity to say something back at some point. Which would you prefer? Sitting idly while someone goes on and on, or a scenario where you’re just as important to things as the person who started the conversation. I’m going to say B.
One way to engage people is to ask a question. How did I start this topic? I asked a question that put you back in your head.
Another way is to encourage people to take part in the activities. Don’t let them be the audience. Audience is a passive term. Think of ways to get them into the story. Can you come up with a way that they can contribute? Are there ways you can encourage follow-on activity in their world?
People are Busy
Respect people’s time when creating your media. Don’t ramble in a podcast just because you can. My wife, Katrina, always says, â€œEditing is good manners.â€ She means that by being respectful of people’s time, you win their appreciation.
One way to do this is lead with your lead. Tell the BEST stuff up front in your blog post or your podcast. Give people a rundown of where you’re going as early as you can. Lots of great media makers script their productions, outline their blog posts, and otherwise use systems to stay on point.
Make sure you provide many ways to subscribe to your media. Posting an RSS link isn’t really going far enough, unless you show people how to subscribe in the way THEY want it. If it’s a blog, show them how to get it by email, if that’s their reading choice. If it’s a videoblog, show your audience how they can stay up to date with your media. Ask if you can notify them of special shows you don’t want them to miss, by sending an email maybe. And if they agree, use that method SPARINGLY. Don’t make every show a must-see show. Make the best ones a must-see.
People Like to be Appreciated
You’re not doing this for yourself (unless you are). The notion is that you’re out there trying to build a relationship with an audience. If you’re in business, you’re establishing brand, or talking about a product, or pitching something in a more human, two-way method. If you’re an individual, you’re building reputation, sharing information with like-minded sources. In all these cases, it’s two way, and the people on the other side want to know you respect that.
Stop by other people’s sites now and again. Leave comments. Point the occasional blog post or podcast out towards the folks who spend their time with you. Go further than a blogroll. Drive awareness. Build traffic.
On my site, I use a Virtual Hot Wings, which allowed fans of his music to buy some very special tracks that weren’t otherwise collected or available. But further, the project sent out updates for new tracks that purchasers of the original project got free for having paid for the project the first time. That kind of follow-on appreciation makes lifelong fans from people interested in your media.
As a producer of a blog or a podcast or other media, consider ways to give the people something more for the attention they’re spending on you. Think of ways to make special offers of free things that show further how someone’s a fan of your work, or better still, ways to promote your audience as the true stars in your social media system. Make it every bit as much about them as it is about your relationship with them.
Make People the Experts
And finally, seek ways to tap into people’s expertise. The point behind unconferences like PodCamp is that the intelligence and brainpower in the audience is almost always going to be greater than what would normally be up on a stage at a traditional conference. To that end, seek ways to tap your audience for their expertise. Ask them to tell you about things. Find out what THEY know. (You know what YOU know).
That’s why I end every post with a question. It’s a way to prompt for interaction, but it’s also a way to learn from the people who spend time with me. I learned a long time ago that the folks spending time with me know more than me in the aggregate. I can start a great conversation, but they always have the better ideas in sum. So ask for it. Seek information. Learn from them.
Besides, people love giving their opinion. It’s a great way to give them the chance to do so.
The Social Media 100 is a project by Chris Brogan dedicated to writing 100 useful blog posts in a row about the tools, techniques, and strategies behind using social media for your business, your organization, or your own personal interests. Swing by [chrisbrogan.com] for more posts in the series, and if you have topic ideas, feel free to share them, as this is a group project, and your opinion matters.
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Photo credit, jenschapter3