Our Thinking

Earning the Right

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Have you ever felt that something was missing with your social media communications? That your Tweets, Posts, and Status updates were being disregarded – almost as if you are speaking to an empty auditorium? That you may have lots of “friends”, but it seems that they are more absent than friendly.

Sadly, this is too common, and it’s not surprising: just because we can add our thoughts to the social network, doesn’t mean we’re relevant, or that anyone is listening.  We have to earn the right first. Here’s how:

  1. Add value with your content: This value must be in the eyes of your audience. Look at your last three week’s contributions: what percentage are high value?
  2. Keep your focus: If someone has found a home in the community you’ve curated, it is likely because the community matches their needs perfectly. Changing the focus (or losing it) mid-stream means one thing: user disengagement. How tightly focused are your social media efforts?
  3. Ask, don’t tell: If it is going to be a conversation, then be the first to start it. What ways can you do this? (Hint: ask a question.)
  4. Participate elsewhere: Spend time on others’ blogs and social media venues, adding value there as well. At the start, this may be as simple as Liking and Sharing others’ content, but it should also include responding to their thoughts with your own.
  5. Respond: Users need acknowledgement, or they disengage. This means thanking them for their comments, and acknowledging their Retweets, Likes, Shares, and Follows.

Even in the old world of email, we ask for permission before sending things out. If we don’t, we label ourselves as spammers, and achieve the opposite effect.

When we post our blog and status updates into the marketplace of ideas, we must recognize that we don’t have a monopoly, and “the customer” can choose to shop anywhere. Yes, we must find ways to attract people to our social media (and web) sites, but it is more important to keep these people engaged once they arrive. We must first earn the right.

This week’s action plan: Another way to say Earning the Right is to say Earning the Trust. And earning trust happens slowly, day-by-day. This week, find one way to do this, through the content you post. When you do, you’ll find that your audience is no longer the “one missing piece” in your conversation.

This post has been written by 108’s Senior Advisor and former CEO Randall Craig.