Effectively Engaging using Online Discussion

I see many people attempting to use various social media to build their business.  They are trying to find new leads and start to build a relationship with people.  Another key objective is to build up your authority in your industry or niche.

This has been going on long before Social Media was THE buzz word.  I have been taking part in forums, chats, even online bulletin boards for over 20 years.  The Facebook Wall is simply the latest iteration of communication on the internet.

What is really wanted in any discussion area is two-way communication.  You want people sharing ideas, discussing topics.

What you do not want is to be broadcasting – simply sending out your message in a one directional format and not allowing for or encouraging feedback.

One very popular technique is to simply posting a helpful article for others to reads. While this may be a nice gesture, it does not encourage the engagement you are looking for.

An example of simply posting a helpful article:

Tips to increase your success at your next trade show.
This Business Week article contains excellent tips to make your time spent at a trade show a success.

Yes it is self-evident what the post is about and who it is for.  But what kind of discussion will result from this.

What is needed is two things to encourage discussion – personalization and query.  Additionally what can really aid in the engagement is specificity.

Therefore your introduction to this article could include the following:

I have been involved in trade shows for years both as a visitor and buyer, and as an exhibitor and although I found them very enjoyable and somewhat successful, I am not sure if I received the results that I should have.  What do you think defines or determines success in when you are an exhibitor at a trade show?

This is now much more open to discussion, in fact makes one curious as to the value of trade shows and what success looks like.

It is personalized by stating you have been involved – in two multiple ways – you have experience.

It queries twice, once indirectly about the results received, and second directly about what success looks like.

It is specific – asking for ‘what defines success at trade shows’ vs. just a generic ‘what do you think of trade shows’.

Work on properly engaging your online colleagues and it will make your efforts much more fruitful.

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