This dynamic is at the heart of social media’s appeal — the opportunity for dialogue and community. And the prospect of change.
Yet, some enterprises — from Main Street start-ups to global leaders — continue to wrestle with where social media fits within a communication strategy.
The reason for the struggle is the same reason relationships at any level are so difficult; genuine dialogue does not come easy.
Self-interest, the superficial and the politics of the moment serve to frame much of what attempts to pass as the substance of dialogue.
But when it comes to marketing and business development, here are 4 ideas that, if implemented, will set the tone for productive social media connections.
1. Develop (and continually exercise) a Listening mindset.
This means listening with the intent to learn, versus an approach rooted in convincing, converting or winning.
Admittedly difficult, this is not as at odds with marketing and sales as we may be conditioned to think. The shortest path to new business is to connect with the concerns of your target. And the quickest way to identify these concerns is to listen far more than we talk. Think 4 or 5 to 1 if a benchmark helps.
2. Know your target’s story.
Better conversations focus on the things that matter most…to your target audience. If the goal is to meet the needs of a particular individual or market, avoid the temptation of beginning with your story.
Do some homework. Learn what what keeps your target up at night…what is important…what is viewed (by the target) as critical to success. You will almost certainly find a point of connection.
3. Build your (very few) talking points around your target’s story (vs. your capabilities).
Better conversations begin with 2 or 3 questions about the target’s needs. Almost everyone, given the right set of circumstances, enjoys telling their own story. For marketers who have done the homework (#2), this should be relatively easy; but where upfront research is impossible, three guiding themes should help:
a) What are the greatest roadblocks to success in the near term?
b) Same question, but with a long lens.
c) The magic wand proposition; what one or two issues would you make disappear?
4. Build a bridge to an on-going dialogue.
An earmark of better conversations is they set the stage for on-going dialogue. Go into every conversation with this goal — even and especially when you ask for the business.
The best business you develop — the business that is most rewarding and the clients and customers who are most loyal — will come in the context of relationships; and quality relationships are the by-product of better conversations.
This is where social media fits…and excels.