Ok, for those of you who have been wondering about the rest of the 5 T's, I have not forgotten we have 3 T's to go. We have already addressed the first two, Topics and Talkers so now boys and girls we are gonna talk about number 4, Taking Part. So, your mission my friend, should you accept it is to participate in the conversation.
People are talking about you, your blog, your company, your products everyday. They are saying good and saying bad. It is, what it is. You can't control it. Your job, find the conversations and jump in. You or your company need to commit time everyday to find where the conversations are happening and join in. They are happening in blogs, chat rooms, message boards, social networking sites, ETC. You need to find em, cre8 a process to help you quickly search and identify conversations about you. They are out there.
Once you find the conversation, run with it. Get involved, jump in. How, interact. "Reply and Respond" make yourself available to your customers, readers and supporters. Respond to comments, return emails, participate in forums, wherever you can, participate. Don't be afraid to talk to the masses either. Cisco, did a great job on their General Councils post regarding their "spat" with Apple. Notice how effective this approach can be, it brings the human element to difficult situation. Now, don't we all know that this is what it is all about, the human element. ( Thanks K Henney for turning me on to the Cisco post)
How else do ya get involved in your word of mouth conversation; say THANK YOU! We have talked about this more than once. Give thanks to those who say nice things about you. Let them know you appreciate their supportive words. Ya want more? Fix problems, you ain't perfect, you've got faults, you are gonna make mistakes. So fix em. There is a reason they are complaining in public, so respond. Imagine the grill (that would be a smile) of a person who is complaining publicly when they get a response from you offering help to resolve it. I think you get the message. The 4th T, Taking Part gets you good mileage if you are committed to it.
Finally, there are a couple of rules, now you know I don't like rules, BUT I love these kinda rules. The first; no SELLING, there will be plenty of times to do that later. Stay focused on the conversation. The next, follow the rules. There are always unwritten rules, whether it is the blogosphere, or a bulletin. There are rules, don't be pushy, don't be off topic, be respectful and play nice. Last but not least, announce yourself, let everyone know who you are. Don't be sneaky, say hey I am the guy you are complaining about or hey, I am the guy you have been talking about. Don't be stupid, if you are, frontin, people will know it. Keep it real, don't be a poser, say who you are. Shoot, If your as good as you think are you should want to tell em who you are.
So now go get em, jump in, and play in the pool. The water is great!