When I was a little kid, my family was kind of poor, and I learned at an early age not to ask for things. The answer always seemed to be a big, fat NO.
When my birthday or Christmas would roll around every year, I wouldn't even bother asking for the latest cool toy or new bicycle or any of those neat things that my friends always seemed to get. I’d take whatever came wrapped up in colorful paper and be thankful for it, rather than wishing for something really special. I wanted Rock'em Sock'em Robots but acted happy when I'd get a Slinky instead.
When I confided to my mom many years later that I felt a little cheated for not having some of the cool toys my friends had, she thought for a moment and said in a surprised voice "you never asked for any of those things, so I didn't think you wanted them."
I laughed and replied that I didn't think we could afford them and without blinking an eye, she shrugged her shoulders dismissively and said, "maybe not, but if you don't ask, you don't get."
This little life lesson has an amazing power that many brands engaging in social media never utilize. If You Build It, They Will Come...and Create.
The promise of WOM marketing is pretty simple--give your customers a venue and some tools, and they will create all kinds of content, interact with others and become ambassadors extolling your brand's virtues.
But what do you do when that doesn't happen? What do you do when you've spent time and money to put a shiny new "Community" link on your site with a few social media tools, and slapped up a Facebook fan page or group, but nobody does anything? There are no comments, no blogs, no videos, no content.
You've provided tools and you've driven traffic, but nothing is happening. It's a ghost town. You wanted the Rock'em Sock'em Robots of a website, and wound up with a Slinky.
Why aren't the visitors doing what they're supposed to do? Ask...and You Might Receive
The answer might be staring you right in the face: did you remember to ask
people to participate?
Now, I'm not talking about the couple lines of text on a web page that go something like "this is your community and we hope you'll join the conversation!"
That's the lazy way of engaging your visitors and not likely to yield results. It's a waste of space on the page that could be used for a more useful link, in my opinion.
The thing is, most people on the internet are busy. They come to a website FIRST for information, not to make new friends. They expect to find content on your website—they’re there to consume
your content, not help create it.
So how do you get visitors to go from consumers to creators? Well, it’s pretty simple.
You ask for help.
Ask your site visitors for their help...and their opinions. Those are two things that almost everyone loves to give. Got A Fence You Need Painted?
I was reminded of this the other day by Bryan Person,
our LiveWorld Community Evangelist, who sent me an email asking me if I had any good ideas for a blog topic.
Bryan phrased his question quite innocently, and made it sound like I could really help him out if I could come up with a good blog topic and write about it. He immediately got me thinking and this entry is the result of him asking.
Now, I’m in the social media business and in fact, it’s my job
to regularly come up with new blog topics. But Bryan didn’t motivate like that…he didn’t demand that I create content, he asked.
He made it sound like I could do a good thing for other people if I could write something and what could have felt like a task, suddenly felt like a noble gesture.
It helps that Bryan has a Tom Sawyer kind of charm to him, and I’m sure if he asked me to paint his fence, I’d think I was getting the better end of the deal, and that’s really the point.
It’s not what
you ask people to do—it’s how you ask
that gets results. Ask in such a way that people want to give. Oh Brother, Can You Spare a Comment?
If you’re finding that you’re not generating content on your social website, you might start with that simple premise. ASK people to contribute. As a website publisher, you have powerful data at your fingertips that gives you insight into your site visitors. Rather than wait for the visitors to engage with each other, you might consider engaging with them first. Try This
Look thru your database and see which 25 people have visited the site most frequently. Or get the list of your 50 most active posters—these are folks who have already expressed some sense of attraction and participation with your site.
Ask them directly via emails, surveys or polls on the site,what they are thinking. What they like or don’t like about your site or your products.
Ask if you can interview them and feature them on the site. Ask them their opinions on a few topics and if you have an interesting email exchange with a member, ask them if they would post that thought on your discussion boards, or if they would write a blog article.
Ask them if they would invite their friends to the site, or what would make the site more invite-worthy. Ask them to do something specific for you.
The act of asking shows people that YOU are engaged and want to be more engaged. It sends the signal that “I want to listen to you.” Asking for something specific lets the person being asked know how much effort is required from them and makes it easy for the answer to be yes.
Most people like to help out, even if we’re incredibly busy. We feel good about doing something helpful for someone else, as long as we can see the benefit to helping. So give your site visitors that opportunity to feel good—connect with them and ask them to help out in a small way. My Momma Always Said...
Remember, just because you ask doesn’t mean that the answer will be yes. But as my mom would say, if you DON’T ask, you won’t get.
What about you? Can you share an example of where you did something a little extra that you wouldn’t normally do—until someone asked you for your help?