One of the obvious advantages of online communication is the ability to get multiple perspectives on a topic and voice your opinion from time to time. I’m sure you’ve all heard the battle cry “join the conversation” in reference to participating on a social media channel. Well, in today’s business world, there are many ways to join the conversation. Some new and some not-so-new:
- Social channels. Hashtags, such as the one we use, #AssocAdviser, are a popular choice among the Twitter set. “Posts” and “likes” fill Facebook walls and LinkedIn pages.
- Video. Products like GoToMeeting—or Google+ Hangouts for those on a budget—have made “face-to-face” possible for groups no matter where they are in the world. And, of course, webinars and Association TV are other popular tools for delivering online education.
- Smartphones. Texting or text polling (see Incorporating Text Polling at Your Next Live Event for more on this) have made their way past tweens and teens, and can be utilized in the most professional of settings. Oh, and let’s not forget the ability simply to pick up that smartphone to make a phone call.
- Face-to-face. In addition to traditional trade shows and conferences, appointment-setting events have become a popular choice for busy professionals. These one-on-one discussions between highly qualified buyers and top suppliers are a great way to extend the conversation between longer show cycles.
- Blogs and websites. Posting and reading the comments at the bottom of the article is sometimes the best part of the story. Sure, you get the occasional spam or aimless rant, but in business-to-business forums, more often than not, you find people just like yourself. People, who work in the field, live and breathe strategy and implementation, and who want nothing more than to let others benefit from their experiences.
There is one thing that all of these communications have in common. In order to be effective, they must have a moderator. Someone who keeps the conversation going and ensures that it stays on track.
As is the case elsewhere in life, “you get what you give” when it comes to engagement and online communications. For example, if you expect to get rampant participation from readers of your blog, you’d better be prepared to respond and carry on a two-way dialogue when someone actually posts a relevant comment. How successful do you think a Google+ Hangout would be if there was not one person guiding the discussion? My guess: Not very successful.
Check out these examples of moderated online discussions:
- The weekly #AssnChat occurs Tuesdays at 2 p.m. on Twitter.
- The International Car Wash Association keeps up lively discussions within its LinkedIn Groups.
- Naylor healthcare editor Heather Williams moderates the type of content that is pushed out to healthcare association members through her Twitter account.
Society can’t live without technology and online communications, but don’t forget the most important part of the conversation: YOU. So, what’s your favorite way to communicate with your members? Do you moderate the conversations for your association? Do you tweet on behalf of your association? Do you author a blog or newsletter? Tell us what’s working (or not working) for you, and I promise you’ll get a response.
Dana Plotke leads the marketing efforts for Naylor, LLC. With nearly 20 years of experience in B2B marketing and communications, she has specialized in association media and events since 2002.