I did something tonight that I rarely do – jump into a Twitter #chat. I've participated in a few #scriptchats recently, and observe other #chats from a distance – soaking in what I can use and leaving the rest. But tonight I dove into #blogchat, and I'm sure there are more than a few people who thought, 'Who the hell is this guy?' From what I can discern, most #blogchat people are either in public relations or have some type of journalism background. Like I said, I usually keep my distance. But tonight I was following their topic of 'influencers and control' with an eye on a prospective client strategy. The conversation shifted a bit to whether you have any control of dialogue in Social Media. Yes, this directly pertained more to bloggers and commenters, but I believe you definitely have the opportunity to control dialogue in Social Media so I decided to contribute to the #chat. In 140 characters, however, I'm pretty sure my position looked something like lunacy. So consider this post my explanation.
First, you don't control everything. Obviously. People aren't robots. So, when I say control – I don't mean *total* control. That doesn't exist.
Second, because people aren't robots, the best way to build an audience in Social Media in any capacity is authentic, transparent and open dialogue with people. Real people. Not just demographics. That in itself is a foreign concept for most companies.
Third, because it's a dialogue (i.e. a 2-way conversation), it requires a well-conceived strategy to guide how it progresses. Remember, people are people – not robots. Every dialogue is as unique as the people engaging in it.
As an advertising guy, I've spent my career inside of the heads of people discovering the precise tone and message necessary for communications to act like internal conversations to the people reading it. The overall goal of every project I've ever worked on has been to get someone to act or think favorably. The only way to reach specific goals is to have a sound strategy in place. A strategy requires thinking through every possible contingency to ensure that no matter what someone might think going into the conversation, you're prepared to overcome any objection and ultimately influence (control) the outcome. Based on the strategy, you engage the mind of a reader in a meaningful dialogue. The moment the reader engages with the communications – you own control. Even if it's for :15 seconds on the radio, :30 on the telly or 140 characters on Twitter. What you say counts. Say it well, and with sincere respect to your audience, and you're on your way to controlling the dialogue. The only difference in Social Media is that you must be prepared for reciprocal communications (which makes it a true dialogue.) If you've done your homework, and you have a solid strategy in place – almost nothing can throw you off.
Understand this – you no more control how people think and what they say any more than you control the weather. Likewise, if you think BUY MY PRODUCT will work on everyone who comes into contact with this command, you're delusional. My point is not that you control what everyone does, thinks, says or writes – but rather that you control what *you* do and say. Preparation means you're more likely to influence people to get them to do whatever it is you want them to do (based on specific goals within a strategy.)
I have to tell you, writing this post is not what I expected to be doing at 1:00 a.m. on a Monday. But sometimes you've just got to think things through. Thanks for that, #blogchat.
[Note: Because of its exclusive 1-way nature, traditional advertising is a lot like smoking in a restaurant to the Social Media crowd. But what you might not know is that for us to get to the point where the messages we create have an impact on an audience requires a lot of 2-way conversations that take place only in the minds of the people creating the communications. Which makes traditional communications problem solving a lot more relevant to Social Media than you probably realized.]