Who doesn’t love a great conversation? There’s something compelling about swapping stories, sharing hurts, and multiplying joys as we connect together each day. Companies are finding the catalyst to true connection often comes through listening.
Marketing and editorial strategists Michelle Horowitz and Kendall Meade believed so strongly in conversation that they launched an entire online platform called InTELLects to grow real-life interactions that promote conversation, creativity, and community:
“I’m energized by making connections and asking people deeper questions,” says Michelle. “It’s how I learn, and it’s how I grow.”
InTELLects features notable leaders, thinkers, and change agents, building a community of mentors and offering users the chance to ask questions – any questions – to grow the collective conversation. The co-founders believe authentic discussions pave pathways to clarity, grow existing communities, and instigate this new universal truth: “ask, and you shall succeed.” InTELLects is promoting a paradigm shift that’s moving companies away from “shoving a sales pitch” and toward authentic customer engagement.
The Critical Surfing “Slow Down”
In today’s complex ecosystem, marketers are realizing that consumer engagement (or return on EXPERIENCE) is a long-term, holistic measure of a customer’s encounter with a brand. Engagement includes any action a customer takes to connect with a company: downloading an app, participating in a forum, or referring products to friends. Engagement brings significantly greater return than website traffic, as researchers report that attention span in “surfing” is typically less than nine seconds per page.
How can we slow people down? Horowitz says asking questions is a wonderful place to start.
“True engagement stems from building a place where people can honestly learn, share, and engage,” she said. InTELLects believes that real conversations transcend the noise and forge emotional connections.
Through digital channels, today’s entrepreneurs have powerful tools to create highly personalized relationships. While community forums have been around for ages, expanding social networks like LinkedIn Groups and Google+ Communities offer a chance to connect with customers and ask questions that can build emotional connections that last. Recent data shows that 68 percent of audiences spent more than 15 percent of their time reading the comments section of a story – revealing the allure of dialogue to build powerful community connection.
Growing the Conversation
As you seek to build your own “conversational opportunities,” here are a few questions to consider:
1. What does your target audience connect with?
2. What questions do they have about your product?
3. What is their favorite feature of your business?
4. Where can you proactively predict what they want to stay ahead of the design curve?
5. What educational or training gaps could your company offer on their behalf?
6. What are some practical questions you could pose to gain insights in these areas?
Need ideas to get you started? Grab your team and brainstorm how you might:
- Host a contest
- Promote customer achievements on your own social media page
- Allow your VIP customers to co-create content
- Host webinars or events
- Make someone your “brand ambassador” for the month
- Allow users to have fun, like the Reddit community did in its season-long Fat Tire experience
As technology barrels ahead, one of our own goals is to keep people at the forefront. Whether it’s online forums, beautifully handcrafted printing, or just the face-to-face interactions we have with you every day, we believe nothing trumps relationships. We enjoy hearing about your own questions and ideas, and we look forward to serving you this year. Let’s keep talking!