How to Engage Online (Building Community)
It’s a fact: a lot of people just don’t “get” Social Media. I see it over and over again where authors use the media channels merely as a free way to advertise and sell their stuff – or (worse!) to report on what they’re doing every moment of the day. The former is called broadcasting. The latter is just sad. (If you are one of the many people who DO get the concept of an online community, you know exactly the type of “communications” that I am referring to.)
Share, Don’t Broadcast
No one wants to be broadcasted to. Think about it: when was the last time you watched the commercials during your favourite TV program? If you’re like me, you have PVR-ed the program and your remote is firmly in hand, ready to fast forward through commercials. Or, if you’re watching live, you channel surf during commercials. Online communications in the social channels that do nothing but broadcast offers and accolades are no different than annoying television commercials. And who wants that? Likely not you, and certainly not your community.
Think of it this way…
Online communities, whether on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ (or whichever is your favourite) require the same consideration that one should give when attending any networking function. While each of these social platforms serve a different purpose, the gist of engagement should not be overlooked.
Consider an environment where you have enjoyed networking with like-minded individuals. Whether for business or pleasure, when one takes time to ask questions, to compliment stories, and encourage discussion, the quality of the experience is generally improved. Showing genuine interest in the person you’re speaking with garners respect and reciprocity.
Good participants of any online community who practice courtesy and reciprocity will reap what they sow.
A few simple tips that may be overlooked:
- listen before you engage
- say thank you when someone comments on or shares your content
- avoid making negative comments – of any kind
- don’t make it all about you
- share good content of your own and of others
If you use any or all of the above, you will note a change in the online environment around you.
And remember, like you, your audience does control who they “listen” to. Choose your community members wisely and treat them as you wish to be treated.
That makes a win-win situation for everyone in the community.
Stay Tuned: next time we’ll look at The Online Content Dilemma.
A little bit about the Author: Lara Veltkamp brings more than 25 years of successful small-business ownership and corporate experience to her work that has enabled dozens of business owners to connect with their marketplace and achieve tangible results, quickly. She is the founder and Chief Engagement Officer of Watershed Marketing Group, a diverse marketing strategy and consulting firm focusing on the Canadian entrepreneur. Lara is the trusted marketing advisor, consultant and mentor to her private entrepreneurial clients running businesses from $100,000 to $10-million in size, across North America.