I call myself a “Chief Conversationalist” working with clients in developing their strategically tactical conversations. Social Media conversations are diverse. Based on my career past, these social media conversations could be in any one of the areas of government relations, public relations, word of mouth, social media, employee communications or community outreach. Regardless of the context, I always stop and ask “What Conversation do you want or need to be in?”

Strategically Tactical

At first blush, “strategically tactical” might seem as opposing fronts. They actually hang harmoniously, as you plan your communications plan. You will want to be on strategy for your business or entity. You will also want to be tactically oriented towards delivering something back to your business or entity. Thus on strategy for your business or intent and tactically on target for delivering a results. Strategy relates to your message, as well as the channels you choose to reach your audience. Tactically pertains to deployment.

What Conversation

It is very easy to get lost in social media. You could spend all day checking things out on line, seeing what’s hot, what’s not. You might be following the stream of social media conversations that are emerging via your twitter account, your newsfeed on twitter or the posts that are flowing through from your LinkedIN connections. STOP – the most strategic conversation is the conversation that you want to be in for your business or entity. What is important to you business or goals? Once you have that figured out, you can determine what conversation(s) you might decide to join. This fundamental question, related to what conversation you are in, is a critical first step. If you are in the business of tourism – you will want to ensure that you are in conversations related to tourism and all things related. You may get more focused if you are a tour boat operator, hence conversations related to tour boats. Choose leaders in your subject area and check out their conversations.

Get into the Conversation

Many folks lurk about and see what social media conversations are unfolding. They take this on as research into areas of interest. My point here is to take the leap of faith and get into the conversation. Whatever your business or interest, I guarantee that you will find conversations taking place. By getting in, participating, engaging, sharing, opining – you will get into the conversation and build important credibility for you and your perspective. There is nothing gained by staying on the sideline with an open ear without actively engaging – unless of course your strategic intent is simply to be monitoring a conversation for insights.

Finding The Social Media Conversations to Join

Pick a social channel and search. It is not unlike picking a subject, a topic or an interest and searching in Google. Pick a social channel and search in the search bar to see what conversation of interest is unfolding. In just about any social network the #’s (hashtags) will take you to particular references of that word and conversation. In LinkedIN you might seek various groups to discover conversations of interest. In LinkedIN if you search a particular subject, it will likely pop up individuals who have used that word in their profile.  You are likely to find some interesting individuals of like minded interests.

If you subscribe or search any traditional media or on line publications, you will most likely find comments following an article allowing you to jump in those social media conversations. Another approach might be search blogs related to a specific topic or area of interest on google.

Avoid Political Ping Pong

In my opinion there is little to gain by engaging in political ping pong. Ping pong I say ?? Yes…ping pong. Have you ever experienced the situation where you or others share an opinion and the counter opinions start flowing. This can be enriching, if it is truly open perspective dialogue. If someone is actually open to anothers’ perspective, and you are as well – it may end up in wonderful an arena of collaborative thinking. However, if you are just batting one opinion vs an opposing opinion back and forth, I’d suggest that you’ve entered a game of political ping pong. Perhaps this is entertaining for bystanders. From where I sit there is little to gain for you, unless you want to show that you can shout loudly about  your entrenched position. This would be similar to engaging with “trolls” who just have an mission to discredit or oppose everything you stand for. I am often amazed by folks that get trapped into twitter debates at #onpoli or #cdnpoli on twitter. Wonderful game but little gain.

Where to Begin

Begin by choosing your conversation of interest.

Search areas of interest via google or in your social networks.

Listen intently for conversation or topics of interest.

Take a shot at jumping into the conversation.

After all…this is social media. Conversations you find will likely be quite rewarding and there will likely be doors that will open to many opportunities to explore with those with whom you engage.

What Conversation are You In ? I’d love to chat further with you if need help getting started or evaluating where to begin. Feel free to comment or reach out to me at any time. Cheers !

FERG @FergDevins @DevinsNetwork