In this blog posting I am going to share my experience in dealing with some of the challenges in leveraging social media to form and promote lively groups of customers, employees, prospects or potential hires. Its universally agreed that content is the key to attract and engage your target audience. We must remember that good content is necessary but not sufficient to achieve this objective.
Content must lead to conversations
Only 10% of any social media group participates actively by posting comments, questions and answers. Which means a group has to have at least 20 members for any conversation to happen. To sustain a continuing conversation; membership has to cross a threshold level of 100. A group can achieve these numbers only by having sustained conversations. There is no participation without conversation and vice versa. We have a catch 22 situation here.
Someone has to prime the conversations pipeline
Promoters of a budding social media group have to post some comments or Q & A in addition to the content itself to kick life into it. These postings have to be at regular intervals and at a certain frequency. You can’t post the content and a few comments and step back. Continued nurturing and priming is required before others start participating in the conversation.
Regular updates and posts keep the conversations alive
Members have to get habituated to checking for updates. Updates have to come at a regular interval setting a kind of cadence or rhythm for the group.
One such example is my experience with my b-school alumni group. Few of us who assumed the responsibility to activate the group started by posting birth-day and anniversary wishes. Because birthdays and anniversaries happen practically daily; the group started buzzing with messages going back and forth. Once sustenance was addressed members got more involved and started conversations on topics of professional interest, travel, get-togethers and reunions.
My company launched a special interest group targeted towards software professionals. We were finding it difficult to have enough attendees in spite of a mailing list of more than 1000 geeks and interesting topics. The main reason we discovered later was irregularity. Later we started following a regular schedule of second and fourth Saturday at 4 PM that was carved in stone. We followed it doggedly no matter what- not bothering about attendance etc. There were days when only a couple of folks showed up- but we never altered the schedule. Today after just 6 months the same group is a thriving community. Every meet is attended by more than 50 professionals.
My company has been conducting webinars at monthly frequency for three years now. We have invitations going out every month resulting in a good number (more than 200) of people accepting the invite and half of them actually attending the event. Everyone on our mailing list gets reminded about us once every month. Regularity has helped us get a mindshare of our target audience.
It’s no wonder that regular cadence works well for building the critical mass required to generate conversations. We get used to events that happen regularly. In fact we start planning for them automatically. After all that’s the way we are wired. Human mind likes everything that follows rhythm – from sports to performing arts.