By Marylene Delbourg-Delphis @mddelphis
Less than a year ago, it was all about conversations. Now, the word “conversation” is used with a pinch of salt. People finally admit that Twitter is more of a broadcast channel, as was clear from the extensive analysis (What is Twitter, as Social Networks or a News Media?) provided by Korean researchers, Haewoon Kwak, Changhyun Lee, Hosung Park, and Sue Moon at the World Wide Web (WWW) in Raleigh NC at the end of April – a study that has been reported by multiple publications since then. At the end of last week, I had an informal meeting with a newly formed social media group in which one man, the skeptic of the gang, had seen the report and asked somewhat provocatively to his colleagues: “What comes next, now that “conversation” is not what we should focus on?”
“You focus on social media itself, and what you want to accomplish,” was my response. “Conversations” may happen, but it’s only one aspect (not the most scalable one) of a broader program, the art of engaging – a much more relevant word that Brian Solis quite conveniently pushed towards the lime-lights with his book Engage! (See my post about it in March).
Engaging encompasses multiple levels and forms of direct or indirect interactions with customers, as well as the ability to facilitate communication of customers among themselves without your direct, heavy-handed participation (more often than not, it’s a better way to really know what’s wrong with your product, what people expect, what they love or hate about you). Twitter is only one of multiple means by which to connect with customers – and it does make sense to take advantage of the fact that it is a broadcast architecture. You can broadcast more often, and, leveraging the talents of a larger number of employees, you can broadcast more human messages. The point is to know what you want to say, whom you empower to tweet and how you train your people to express in their own words what the company’s mission is about, and how well they evangelize customers by expressing something they themselves believe in. So, the more you broadcast, the better! Then, leveraging social media means managing all campaigns end-to-end to know at all times which messages resonate best, and identify your most effective messengers within and without. If what you have to say as a company is interesting, your internal buzz agents will enable their followers to carry out the good word. Why do you think Twitter is doing well on good causes messages? Because good causes create good messages.