Social Conversations: Don’t be a Blowhard.

     Imagine you’re at a party enjoying a lively conversation, and some loudmouth walks in the front door, and immediately begins spewing out everything that he’s done over the past week.

     Everybody just wants this blowhard to leave. They hear his words, but they don’t want to listen. The reason: He hasn’t taken the time to read the room, to listen to the conversation, so what he has to say is completely inappropriate or of no interest to everyone in the room.

     You don’t want to be “that guy,” right? Well, the type of social marketing practiced by many companies today resembles “that guy.”  These organizations are blowhards on social media because they make the same mistake as that loudmouth. They don’t take the time to listen to the conversation. If you show up and just provide a bunch of marketing speak, everyone is just going to ignore you.

     But you need to take part in these conversations. As social media expert Brian Solis wrote in a blog post, The Art of Conversation – It’s About Listening Not Marketing, “Influential conversations are taking place with or without you. If you’re not part of the conversation, then you’re leaving it to others, and possibly competitors, to answer questions and provide information, whether it’s accurate or incorrect.”

     Here is what you need to do so that you can be accepted into the conversation: 1. Listen. 2. Contribute to, rather than detract from, the conversation. Avoid marketing speak, and reference or link to your content at the appropriate time(s).

     Simple, right?

     Well, not always.  Many marketers and PR pros ignore “social” (e.g., they don’t listen) and instead fish the same pond they always have, using their lure or bait – the news or press release – and casting it about for whatever fish – journalist or analyst – might bite.

     The first problem with this approach is it’s untargeted. The second problem is that many others have lines in the water so it is difficult to reel a fish in, that is, get an article placement, interview or other form of engagement. And as conversations move from traditional to social channels, it is only getting more challenging.

     With all the competition, any advantage is significant. Think of how valuable it would be if there was a better way to secure interest in and placements of your “news,” or if you could increase the number of people interested in this news.

     It’s possible to do both using social media. And to use social media effectively, again, you need to start by listening. By “listening” to journalists and analysts’ published online news stories, blogs, Tweets, LinkedIn shares, Facebook updates and other social discussions, you can be more informed and more targeted in whom you present your news to.

     Those who are most likely to be interested in your content at a given moment are the people who are conversing about that topic at that precise moment.

     And what about increasing the size of the audience that is interested in what you have to communicate? Journalists and analysts are valuable resources, but social media has given us another group that has similar sway: social influencers, or as we like to refer to them, social voices. These are people who don’t fit in the journalist or analyst categories — they can be consultants, human resource, IT and other B2B decision makers, recruiters, speakers and even solution providers — but they have online thought leadership, big visibility and a lot of “social” influence on topics that matter to B2B marketers and PR pros and their clients.

     Getting attention in social voices’ blogs and social communications gets your news before their audiences, just as getting a story placement in a trade magazine gets your news before its readership.

     But the addition of all these new online influencers and the terabytes of information shared on their many social channels have made the pond a lot bigger and a lot harder to navigate. You need to listen to the online conversations that matter to your business so you can target and pique the interest of the right online influencers —at the right time— who are most likely to have interest in and/or share your news.

     To even begin to make sense of these conversations you have to first be able to access them. Then you need to filter out all the noise, the massive number of conversations that have nothing to do with your business. Only then can you properly identify the right audiences to engage with.

    A new article by HRmarketer and SocialEars titled “Want People To Hear You? Then Listen” shows how Social Listening And Engagement Software can help marketing and PR pros do just this. Get it here.

Post by Eric Anderson, researcher at HRmarketer | SocialEars