I love technology and chances are that, since you’re visiting an internet marketing blog, you do, too.
My day job has me working in politics and harnessing the power of digital media to connect with voters – when I consult and write, I think and write about how technology makes marketing better and more effective.
Like most of you – I’m always on. Always.
The growth of social networks and the proliferation of fancy devices is making it harder to have real, genuine conversations. Possibly worse, these developments are making it harder to find and identify quality content.
The irony of all this is that the communication tools that were supposed to make connectivity easier, are actually making it harder.
Quick, efficient and voluminous exchanges do not necessarily make for quality conversations. This all means that your business might be substituting a large number of connections for deep connections.
All is not lost
Social media marketing can be performed in a manner that ensures depth of conversation. Here are three steps that your business can follow to ensure it is forming deeper connections with your customers and prospects through social media.
1. Be present
Do you instantly take a picture of a well-presented meal at a nice restaurant? Or, do you immediately check in on Foursquare or Facebook when you arrive at an event?
I’m guilty. I’m one of those people. Once, I actually caught myself watching a live event by viewing it through the screen of my Blackberry as I recorded it – it happens far too often.
Some argue that our devices and networks enhance the world around us and the events we attend.
Others disagree. Sherry Turkle, author of Alone Together, writes:
Once we remove ourselves form the flow of physical, messy, untidy life — and both robotics and networked life do that — we become less willing to get out there and take a chance.
If Turkle is right, our over reliance on technologically aided communication could make us less innovative.
2. Create moments
We have been told an important way to build relationships online is to comment on something someone else said or wrote. It’s true that it helps.
It can also get out of hand. Too many comments are the mere written form of verbal diarrhea.
Instead of offering complaints, offer constructive criticism. Ben Yoskovitz, VP of Product at GoInstant, offers five steps to providing constructive criticism:
- Plan before you do it. Have a clear plan – a path to guide your discussion.
- Build someone up. Before telling them what they have done wrong, emphasize their positive qualities.
- Be clear. Understanding criticism can be hard enough without having it poorly delivered.
- Build some more. After criticizing, offer solutions and ask questions.
- Follow up. Constructive criticism never ends with one interaction – you need to continue your exchanges.
Even better than offering constructive criticism, write something that will make others want to comment. As I wrote a few months ago, there are five ways you can generate more comments – follow these rules and write a blog post or create a YouTube video.
Creating, like commenting, is easier than ever – work on doing more of the former.
3. Try having a real conversation
Face-to-face meetings can be the best option for dealing with tough issues. If you’re trying to decide what kind of interaction is best, here’s a pyramid to keep in mind: the least personal is email, then social network messaging, texting, a handwritten note, a phone or Skype conversation and then, the most personal, an in person conversation.
I know in-person meetings aren’t always possible – distances can be too great. You should always try to be as personal as possible. If you want to increase the depth of your conversation, start at the top of that pyramid – an in-person meeting – and work your way down to find the most practical option.
Don’t just take my word for it, here are three other reasons in-person conversations beat email:
- Hard to grasp context. Have you ever mistaken someone’s joke for a cruel comment? Have you misunderstood someone’s tone? In-person conversations make picking up on intonations and non-verbal cues much easier.
- Email is overly reactive. Email tends to force people to offer reactive messages that are more hostile than normal.
- Email causes too much debate. Because context is hard to understand and because it is overly reactive, email is a great way to carry on a debate or discussion for too long. Misunderstandings can cause benign conversations to become full out arguments – it can be avoided.
All technology has an upside and a downside. The upside of social media marketing is well-known – it lowers the cost of customer acquisition, makes customer interaction and customer relationship management easier, and helps generate immediate customer feedback.
All marketers also need to be weary of the downside of social media marketing that this post touches on. Being aware is the first step to minimizing the negative effects – be aware and then take the three steps outlined in this post and you will form deeper connections with your customers and prospects.
Should social media slow down?
What do you think? Are you overwhelmed and over connected? How do you relax? If you’re not overwhelmed, what tips can you share to help others deal with over connected syndrome?