Creating Twitter Conversations That Matter

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Twitter is unlike other social media channels. While others focus largely on images and videos, Twitter has an unwavering focus on one-to-one human interactions. Sure, there’s video, GIFs, and even voice tweets, but there’s also a large value placed in genuine conversations. This week on the chat, we spoke to social media trainer and #TwitterSmarter veteran, Janet Machuka about why conversations are important for brands and how they can engage meaningfully.

Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Janet Machuka
Topic: Creating Twitter conversations that matter
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: Why do conversations matter?

Conversations happen both ways. When you share content, your audience will respond and engage with it.

These conversations are important because they’re a great way for you to gather feedback from customers and be more socially active. They also help you build your brand’s credibility and influence.

Having active conversations shows your audience that you care about their opinions. It humanizes your brand, as Alyx put it. The more conversations you engage in, the more relationships you’ll build with people. People buy from those they like and trust, and that’s why relationships are crucial to establishing a strong brand on social media.

Q2: How do you create great conversations on social media?

Though it often feels challenging and intimidating, it’s easy to initiate conversations on social media. Most people start by offering help and services. This works particularly well if you’re having a one-on-one conversation on social media and the other person asks the community for help. That way, you’ll be directly answering a question without it being overly pushy. Other ways to create conversations include paying compliments, asking for feedback and opinions, and sharing case studies or educational material.

When you achieve your goals, share that with your community and thank those who were instrumental in your success. When you involve more people in your victories, it becomes more of a conversation rather than a broadcast.

Over time, start monitoring the results of your conversations and analyze which strategies work best for you. Once you know what’s resonating with your audience, you can easily replicate that and get more highly-engaged conversations.

As Jim pointed out so nicely, you don’t have to necessarily start a new post to start a conversation. Many great conversations start when you listen to what your audience is saying and respond to them. Make it about them and what they’re saying rather than about you and what you think they ought to care about.

Q3: What role do social listening tools play in conversations?

Social media tools are great for monitoring what exactly your audience is saying, who’s mentioning your brand on social, concerns and issues they’re is facing, and topics that matter to them. You can also use social listening tools to keep an eye on your competition—understand what they’re doing and observe how well or badly their campaigns are performing. Based on these insights, you can then tweak your own strategy to suit current situations or needs.

Social media listening tools are also exceptionally handy when it comes to identifying potentially brand-damaging comments. Most tools send you notifications when they detect a negative comment or a mention on social media. You can also set up alerts for news about your brand so that when something goes wrong, you can get onto it right away. Above all, social media listening tools are designed to help you measure the impact of your conversations and social media presence.

As Christine put it succinctly, social media monitoring and listening tools tell you exactly where you should be spending your time and energy.

Q4: How do you start a conversation with a stranger on Twitter?

The simplest thing you can do is engage with them positively. The more you do that, the more you’ll learn about the other person and you’ll automatically start to develop a relationship with them. From that point forward, your engagements will naturally evolve into easy and casual conversations. If you come across a great post from a stranger, share it with your audience and add a credit to show you appreciate their work.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help and admit it when you need more clarity on something. If the other person is an expert in their field, they’ll be happy to help you out and that could also be the beginning of a relationship.

Once you’re confident enough, send them a direct message and initiate conversations there. If people recognize you, they’ll immediately be open to a conversation, even if they haven’t directly spoken to you before. This is where social media communities like marketing Twitter, Twitter Smarter, and #AfricaTweetChat come into play. Join these communities so people become more familiar with you and what you do.

No matter how you go about it, just remember always to be sincere and respectful, as Pavel pointed out. Jumping into conflict isn’t the ideal way to build conversations and relationships.

Q5: How do you know a conversation is meaningful?

Meaningful is subjective. As Madalyn pointed out, if you find a conversation interesting, entertaining, educational, and all the things that you value most, then it’s a meaningful conversation.

That said, though, our guest also spoke about all the good things that can come from a meaningful conversation. For instance, a truly meaningful conversation leaves a positive impact on people. It inspires them and keeps them coming back for more conversations. This rolling benefit increases your brand’s awareness, credibility, and engagement.

Meaningful conversations lead to bigger things. Your audience will automatically recognize you as a subject matter expert or a thought leader in your industry. You’ll become their go-to for questions, concerns, and ideas. Gradually, that’ll lead to business partnerships, purchases, and influence.

Q6: How do you ensure that you gain a lot from a conversation?

To get the most from a conversation, you have to have more conversations. The better you are at socializing with your audience, the more you’ll know how to get value from those conversations. Interact with everyone—listen to people from all walks of life and engage with their experiences.

If you have a loyal customer following, encourage them to share their stories and experiences of working with you. Collaborate with customers and others in your industry to strengthen your offerings and value.

Of course, it’s also worth remembering that to get maximum value out of anything, you have to offer value as well, as Madalyn reminded us. You can’t expect to receive without giving first. The more time, resources, and positive comments you give, the more you’ll get in return.

Q7: Are there any secrets to great conversations? Share.

Listen before you talk. In most cases, we jump into response mode even before we fully comprehend what the other person’s trying to say. Give everyone a chance to express their opinions. If you’re not sure, ask again politely. If you don’t agree with someone’s point of view, say so in a respectful manner. Keep an eye on your language and tone, and before you send out a tweet, make sure that your tweet communicates your message clearly.

Most importantly, be your human self, crack jokes, and have fun. Social media is nothing is you don’t enjoy it.

Be aware of trends and conversations relevant to your audience. Practice conveying your opinion with current events and situations in mind. Always learn to read the room.

Q8: Share tips on how you find conversations to join.

Twitter’s search is a powerful tool. Search for conversations by keywords, hashtags, and accounts that are relevant to your industry. Twitter also categorizes tweets based on topics. Follow a few of them to gain wider exposure. Find Twitter chats and Spaces communities and become a regular part of those conversations.

Twitter Lists can also be a great way to identify conversions, as our friends from Clover Media Consulting suggested. You can classify Twitter accounts based on topics they often discuss and save them as private or public lists so you have all tweets about a certain topic or interest grouped in one place. This can be a valuable addition to your regular Twitter feed.

Well, that’s all from me, folks. Thanks for reading through, and for more insights from our chat with Janet, have a look at this Twitter Moment that Joana put together for us. If you think this summary is pretty good, you’ll love the real-time chat. Join us every Thursday at 1pm ET on #TwitterSmarter. Afterward, we also hang out on Twitter Spaces at 5pm ET to continue our chat. Catch you there!

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About me, Narmadhaa:

I write all the things—marketing stuff for the bills; haiku and short stories for the soul. A social media enthusiast, I’m a member of the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and always happy to take on writing gigs.

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