Chris Noble of WorldNomads.com has a great article in EyeforTravel today. While others are focused on the value of advertising in social sites, Noble says the value (particularly for travel) lies in engagement.
These are his key points:
- Show the world the human side of your company – let them get to know the people who work there. “ You’re a trekking company looking to ‘engage’ with those consumers interested in trekking. You have a staff member who happens to be passionate about photography and sharing their pictures. Why not encourage that staff member to manage your company Flickr account, upload their photos and build a community around trekking photography.” This is a great example.
- Get ideas from your users. Dell has done this superbly with IdeaStorm. World Nomads did it with their audio language guides, born out of a debacle caused by using the wrong phrase. Listen, learn and respond says Noble.
- Be part of the conversation. Positive word of mouth in discussions has led to influence and sales. They’ve seen more sales through Facebook as a referring site than any Ad Network they’ve used – and they’re not running ads on Facebook.
- Tie social media into your corporate social involvement. Sites like KIVA have shown just how effective online giving and involvement in other communities can be. WorldNomads.com encourages their travelers to donate to sustainable community development projects around the world when they buy travel insurance. 180,000+ donations later, 35 projects funded and a 90% donation rate shows that their users share their values.
- Building business relationships with social media. Many people still see Twitter as a waste of time, but Noble has found it ‘shockingly effective’ in building relationships with like minded peers. He’s done several successful partnership activities and promotions as a result of Twitter conversations.
Listen, learn and respond is indeed the mantra. It’s about what they need and want, not what we want to tell them.
Get started by using tools like BlogPulse to find conversations about your brand or niche. Subscribe to their RSS feeds with Google Reader. Search Twitter using your keywords. That’s the listen part.
Then comes the learn – listen for things people are interested in, what they like and dislike, what could make their lives easier. Do an evaluation of what you’re finding in these conversations. Be open ofr AHA moments,
Now you can formulate a content strategy. Create content that will resonate with your audience. Listening gives you ideas that align with their interests and values. Create something that really helps your users.
Word of mouth and engagement follow naturally when you create the right content. And pPeople link to excellent content. That helps your search visiblity too, so you win on both fronts.