“A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. That’s why there are so few good conversations: due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet." –Truman Capote
A survey done in April 2012 by Netcraft received responses from 676,919,707 websites. It can be safely assumed there are double the amount of active websites in 2012 than the previous year. In the midst of a tsunami of new information being introduced to the web each day, a remarkable paradigm shift has occurred in web development. It’s called social media.
Social media isn’t the Facebook or Twitter widget that gets pushed into a dusty corner of a website–those are just tools. Social media is the art of listening to an audience. It is the dialogue that inspires the content on every page. As this participation grows, new content is introduced. The conversation that ensues between a site owner and their audience is an ongoing relationship.
Engaging Your Audience
What’s the best way to encourage audience participation? We would like to argue that is a natural process or byproduct of the website’s conviction. It is natural because people are generally drawn in by conversational tailored content. When a website exudes passion in that format, the audience is compelled to participate.
It is important to differentiate this concept of conversational tailored content from the social media tools everyone is already familiar with. The concept is really simple. Content includes all the information laid out on a web page.
Under the new paradigm website content is written in a conversational style manner that entices people to participate. The boring, monologue styled sales pitch was the old paradigm.
Success Needs a Schedule
It’s hard to have a conversation with someone who is walking away. That’s exactly what it feels like when a great website has been found, but it hasn’t been updated in months. It is important to establish a schedule for regular communication.
People are habitual creatures and will return regularly if they have identified with the website’s message. Providing regular conversation should be as important as delivering on a promise. When this is viewed as a contribution to a community, the ease of which the content flows will be an inspirational experience for everyone involved.
Choosing the Right Tool
New social media tools are being released every week. Social media tools provide various means of listening to your audience and every tool has a unique twist. However it is best to start off with tools that you are already familiar with. What you use on a regular basis is a habit.
Being able to piggyback an existing habit is much easier than developing new ones. If the only thing you do on the Internet is check email and browse a few pngages, just include simple, well placed webforms on your site. Maintaining a website under the new paradigm may be daunting enough, so start easy.