Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Social Media Game for the Holidays

It's the eve of the amorphously named "Holiday Season" in the U.S., which means tons of parties (many obligatory,) excessive eating and rampant consumerism.

What the holidays also mean is that you will be, through any number of circumstances, in close contact with many people - family, friends, and complete strangers. Because I find these affairs excruciating, I've developed a game to amuse myself, and the people around me. I call it, simply, "The Social Media Game."

In Social Media, the first step is to find a point of commonality with a person. If they are a priori interested in your product, that's great, but if they've never heard of your, then you can't just jump into a conversation with "Hey, buy my book!" Relevance is the way to open up a conversation with someone who cares.

In Social Media, you want to engage people. The easiest way to do this is to get them talking about themselves. Asking open-ended questions is hit or miss. "How are you doing?" often gets unhelpful replies like, "Fine."

In Social Media, your consumers want you to listen to them, they don't want to hear the same old blather about you.

And, in Social Media, customers want to feel like they've been rewarded for engaging with you.

In the Social Media Game, you'll do all these things on a small scale, just for fun.

Here's the rules:

1) When you find yourself in proximity with a person, stranger, relative, friend, open up the conversation with an observation about them. Try to avoid hair or weight comments. Pick something with a brand, or a specific characteristic that you can relate to. "Oh, you like chestnuts in your stuffing too?" or "Where'd you get that Bill Blass coat? I've been looking for one" or a random semi-literate comment about a sports team they favor. Anything you can add a "me too" to. Now you've created a point of commonality.

2) Ask them questions first relating to the common point, then branch out. See how much you can get them to talk about themselves. when you don't need the questions anymore, you've got engagement.

3) Listen well. Repeat things they've said to you, showing that you agree and care.

4) Keep the conversation on a positive track, and leave them with a smile. (Reward!)

I was playing this on line at the food store (Find) and not only did I garner an invitation to dinner (Engage,) but the woman I was talking to thanked me for making her time on line fun (Reward.)

Is this social media? You bet. Is it also being a decent person? Absolutely. Which is exactly what good social media needs. This is a silly game that allows you to practice your basic social media skills in the most basic social environment, talking with another person.

Extra points for getting dates, dinner invites, clients or any other plus. :-)

When the holidays are over, sit back down at your desk and look at your social media strategy - are you really doing these things for your business? Playing the Social Media Game with individuals will not only make you more fun to be around at parties, it will help you look at your Social Media Strategy without delusion.

To all my American readers - have a very happy and healthy holiday!
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