If you’re reading this blog, you have at least some inclination that this social media thing could be big. If that’s the case, you’ve probably been tasked with converting a social media skeptic at some point. I had an experience with this that’s had a huge impact I how I go about such things, and think it might help you as well.
My cousin Paul is the founder and CEO of a dessert-only restaurant concept in Boston called Finale. He’s a super guy, and the place is a triumph.
Like most succesful small business owners, Paul is a no-nonsense guy. He tries what makes sense, does the math, uses more of what works and less of what doesn’t. I still remember trying to explain Twitter to him for the first time.
Paul: “So who are you talking to?”
Paul: “So everyone can talk to you?”
Me: “Well, kind of. But really just the people you follow.”
Paul: “Great. How do you get people to follow you?”
Me: “Well… by tweeting. You share stuff, try to help people.”
Paul: “Help them what?”
Me: “I don’t know, find stuff.”
Paul: “And how do you find that stuff?”
Me. “By listening to people.”
Paul: “So why don’t the other people just listen to those people?…”
On and on. Went nowhere.
Looking back, what got Paul engaged in the medium was seeing the conversation already taking place online about his business. He started paying more attention to the RSS feed I’d set up for him, shared highlights (and lowlights) with his team, and one day responded himself to a fan’s post in the comments of her blog. Over time we built up a following, tried a few offers, and eventually found a formula that worked. Boo-ya.
Those of us attracted to social media by the shiny technologies that make it possible are already sold on the medium. You can’t swing a dead cat right now without hitting a Social Media Expert.
When it comes to bringing new folks into the medium – folks who, it’s important to remember, comprise the vast majority of the planet – the technology ain’t gonna do it. More than that, it gets in the way.
If you need to show a skeptic Twitter, show it to them from a search output page back. Do the same thing wherever the conversation about the brand they care about is most intense – in facebook, on Yelp, MySpace, even in Flickr if that’s where advocates or detractors express themselves. When the person you’re trying to convert expresses a desire to respond to something, your job is done.
The key is to focus on looking through the technology, at the people who are using it.
Remember that technology and people can both be hard to understand. But people are much harder to ignore, particularly for someone running a business that needs to reach them.
So what have you found to be most effective in getting new folks into the tent?
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