Connecting with Conversations

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We all know that social media, and Twitter particularly, thrives on conversations. Nothing gets more attention than a Twitter thread with varying points of view. Somehow, seeing a discussion or debate triggers us to get involved, too. But when it comes to brand handles, not every brand participates in conversations the same way as individuals do. Are brands missing out by not engaging in conversations? We spoke to the CEO of B Squared Media to find out. Here’s a summary of our chat.

Guest: Brooke Sellas
Topic: Connecting with conversations
Format: Eight questions directed at the guest. Everyone’s welcome to share.

Q1: Should brands get involved in Twitter conversations?

If your audience is active on Twitter and they want you to engage with you on the platform, then yes, you absolutely should get involved.

Nowadays, customers will automatically gravitate towards social platforms they want to be in. Just follow their lead.

Q2: How can a brand share opinions and feelings on social media?

The best way to go about sharing opinions and feelings is to make it relatable and realistic. For example, people will relate to a social media marketing agency talking about how they feel about the new filters on Instagram. However, they may not relate to the same social media marketing agency talking about the US Open. It’s best to stick to your industry or a topic that closely aligns with what you do.

While sharing opinions, ensure that you’re opening up a conversation. Instead of sharing a closed-ended statement, make it an open-ended question—ask people what they feel and engage with the responses you get.

As Avast pointed out, and our guest agreed, polls are a great way to start a conversation with your audience. They’re easy to interact with and also a good way to drive the conversation towards a specific angle.

Q3: How can you separate the social media manager’s voice from the brand’s voice?

Social media managers (SMMs) tend to have a unique and undeniable voice on their personal handles. That’s why it’s important to separate their voice from the brand. The best way to do this is to set up clear and extensive brand guidelines that cover language, tone, diction, emoji usage, GIF usage, and the overall voice of the brand. Ensure that your SMMs get periodic training and updates about the brand’s voice.

One of my favorite ways to distinguish a brand from the SMM is Jim’s recommendation, too. Ask your SMMs to sign off each tweet so that the audience knows who’s behind the handle at any given time. This can be particularly useful when you participate in Twitter chats or Spaces. Social Media Pulse and our friends at NOW Marketing Group do a great job of this.

Q4: How can a brand share controversial opinions without causing backlash?

You can’t so don’t bother trying. It’s impossible to please everyone. Acknowledge that and stand by your brand’s values. Those who support your brand will continue to do so.

As Madalyn added, when you’re interacting online, always be kind and respectful. You can still have an amicable conversation with someone who disagrees with you.

Q5: Why is social listening important?

Unlike social media monitoring, social listening is proactive. You’re actively searching for customer views, perspectives, and feedback. This means that you can gain valuable data on what your customers prefer, and how they feel about your competitors so that you can make strategic decisions.

If you find that your brand has a relatively low rate of tags and mentions, then it’s a sign that you need to invest more time in community building. That said, though, you can still listen to what your audience is saying about your industry and your competitors to gain useful market insights.

Q6: Facts VS emotions: which helps you connect more strongly with people?

Relationship psychology indicates that we build connections by sharing stories about ourselves with others. These are incredible moments we share in a conversation that makes us instantly feel like we know the other person a little better.

Our guest outlined four types of disclosures. These are cliches, facts, opinions, and feelings. These are the things that connect us with each other.

Emotions always trump hard facts. Even though most people appreciate the decisiveness of a fact, they also want to connect with others they can resonate with. That’s how trust is built—and to do that, you have to show the human side of your brand.

Q7: What should brands avoid doing when trying to build relationships on social media?

As Dorothée said, don’t be robotic. Though automation can be helpful, don’t rely on it so much that your engagement sounds fake and engineered. Another important one: don’t be a salesy broadcaster. Social media is for two-way discussions—be involved.

Your Social Penetration Theory or SPT, as our guest defined it, should focus on providing breadth and depth. Some in your audience will want to see how broad your knowledge is, while some others will want reassurance that you have deep expertise in one area. Cater to both.

Another good thing to remember, as Lance pointed out, is to own your mistakes. We all slip up sometimes, but what really makes a brand relatable and likable is the way they acknowledge their mistakes and handle that situation.

Q8: Share some of your favorite social listening tools.

Our guest’s favorites include Sprout Social, Agorapulse, Talkwalker, and Mention. Most of these offer free versions or comprehensive free trials so you can explore and play around with them before making a commitment.

When evaluating tools for your social listening, ask the vendor how the product can help you solve your problems. That’s a good way of filtering out the tools that may not work as effectively for you.

Other tools our community members recommended include Brand24, Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Buffer, Google Alerts, Brandmoran (a listening tool exclusively for Kenya), and eclincher.

Well folks, that’s all from me this week. Thanks for reading through and for more great insights from our chat with Brooke have a look at this Twitter Moment that Joana put together for us. If you like this summary, you’ll love the real-time chat. Join us next Thursday at 1 pm ET for #TwitterSmarter. We also have an after-chat on Twitter Spaces at 5 pm ET. See you there!

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About me, Narmadhaa:

I write all the things—marketing stuff to pay the bills; haiku and short stories so I feel wholesome. A social media enthusiast, I hang out with the #TwitterSmarter chat crew, and am always happy to take on writing gigs.

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