Google's new Dragonfly announcement has changed the game of Web marketing by placing more emphasis on what happens with Web content than on what happens in Web content. This means it's no longer enough to create a top-notch website. You have to create conversation surrounding the content on that website to attract the social signals, sharing and authorship credentials, which Google is now giving preference to.
Conversation as a concept is easy. You tell interested people something engaging using a fascinating message, then sit back and watch them talk about it. As a day-to-day marketing tool, it's a tougher proposition. These five tips will make it easier.
1. Follow Your Passion
Even if you love your job and your industry, there are parts of it that don't light a fire in your belly. Avoid those topics when you're creating content. Stick instead to the things that get you up on your feet and thrilled to start another day at work. The more passion you feel when you're writing, the more passionate readers will become about your content. Passion creates conversation.
2. Connect With Thought Leaders
Nearly every industry has people active on social media who either lead the conversation curve or become the subject of conversation on an almost daily basis. Whatever your industry, you know the names of those thought leaders. Start by commenting on their blogs and social media posts, then progress to inviting them to comment on yours. By positioning your ideas in their sphere of influence, you'll pick up some of their cache.
3. Provide Customer Support
Make no mistake: There is no substitute for personal, on-the-phone or face-to-face customer service when things are going wrong. For little things, basic maintenance or simple announcements, use social media to make some of those connections. Customer support interactions are by definition a conversation, a back-and-forth of ideas relevant to your business that customers find important enough to talk about. This key has the bonus benefit of giving you a written record of the things your customers care most about or are most annoyed by—a record you can consult when setting the next set of goals for your business.
4. Seek Opinions
When in doubt, ask a question. This can be something as close to your business as asking what colors a new widget should come in, or something with broader reach like wondering what your customers thought of a recent news item or sports outcome. When you ask questions, any response is the beginning of a conversation. It lets your fans and followers engage with you on the topics they consider most important. The result? Longer, more passion-fueled conversations with you at the hub.
5. Occasionally Pick A Fight
If you really want to bring people into a conversation on the Internet, say something they disagree with. Even Web veterans are amazed at how quickly a simple comment can spiral into pages worth of passionate, engaged conversation. As with any work conversation, avoid "hot button" topics like religion and politics even when picking this kind of fight. Instead, stick to controversial topics directly related to your industry like an unpopular new development or predictions about upcoming awards.
What's the best conversation you had about your brand—or somebody else's—on the Web?
Jason has contributed over 2,000 blog and magazine articles to publications local, regional and national. He speaks regularly at writing and business conferences. You can find out more about Jason at his website.
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