Are You Encouraging a Two-Way Dialogue with Your Stakeholders?

Have you visited SocialMedia Examiner yet? If you are in the digital marketing space and have not yet done so, do yourself a favor and pay the site a visit. The “guide to the social media jungle” covers a variety of pertinent topics for marketers, from Facebook to Twitter to Pinterest to LinkedIn to the more broad-speaking “How on Earth do I weave social media into my content marketing strategy?”

Today’s top post, titled “26 Ways to Create Engaging Content” by Debbie Hemley could not be more dead on. Hemley explores the chief strategies for getting readers to engage with your copy—from injecting timely data to identifying keywords for optimization purposes to honing content objectives. My personal favorite? Encouraging a two-way conversation.

Let me take a step back. There is perhaps nothing more disheartening then being on the receiving end of a one-sided conversation—and we have all been there. Whether it is the friend returning from vacation and diving into every detail of his or her five-day escape or that coworker who laments about every single work snafu or the distant relative who shows up at the family reunion and only wants to talk about his or her  career accomplishments.

It’s a tough pill to swallow.

You want to interject (for example, reminding that cousin that you just got a major promotion at work) and you want the individual to have the human decency to ask “And what about you?”  But they don’t. They just keep going.

Your customers, clients and prospective stakeholders oftentimes feel the same way when they read your company blog or comb your social media sites and see a flagrant spread of “me, me and me.” You are touting your accomplishments, delighting in your newest partnership and extolling in your great customer offering….but do you even take the time to figure out what your customers want to hear about?

Unfortunately, many companies write incessantly on their blogs and social media accounts, never pausing to ask their readers what they think about posts, what they want to read about and what they want to know about a certain topic. In other words, they are the greatest contributors to the one-sided conversations.

But the thing is, your customers want to engage with you—they just need the OK to do so.

So how do you drive the two-sided conversation? By asking questions.

On your blog, include standard statements at the end of each entry, such as “Do you agree with us that grunge clothing is coming back in style?” or “We want to know what you think about 2013 being the year of widespread cloud ubiquity. Comment below!” On Twitter, remind your customers that they can tweet at your or DM (direct message you) with any questions or concerns. On Facebook, put up daily polls or introduce staples such as Fun Friday or Thursday Trivia that elicits their participation. Your stakeholders certainly want to gab, they just want to know that you are OK with it.

And can you really blame them? After all, 70 percent of global brands do not even engage with consumers on social media. Moreover, one quarter of global companies go so far as to privatize their Facebook walls so that customers cannot ask questions at all. Are you in that 70 percent?

Don’t be afraid of the two-person conversation… especially since it is happening already with or without your permission. You may not be asking for direct feedback on your blogs and social media accounts but disgruntled customers and clients will be sure to find a way to participate in the dialogue on alternate platforms. Instead of fearing the conversation, help facilitate it. Give your company platform to address any negativity and, more importantly, give your key stakeholders a voice.

Do not be that person at the family reunion or at work. Chances are, you do not want to spend even one more hour with that person. What makes you think your key stakeholders feel differently?

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