How to Make Conversation Online

Learn seven tips to move your conversations to relationships.

Lisa B. Marshall
5-minute read
Episode #96

Just about two years ago, I started The Public Speaker with the article, How to Start a Conversation. At the end of that article I promised a companion piece about starting electronic or online social media conversations. So today, is the long-awaited article about making and extending online conversations..

How to Start Conversations Online

Certainly over the past two years there’s been staggering growth in social media. Although I could look to the statistics, I don’t have to. I always know when something has hit the mainstream when my two non-techie friends, Linda and Larissa, start talking about and using newer technologies. Over the two past years, they’ve joined LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter (in that order).

I also know starting conversations online is gaining mainstream status because much my clients have been asking about how to make and (most recently) extend online conversations. In short, they want to understand how to engage their audience.

Recently, our entire quick and dirty team dedicated an entire conference call to discuss our individual experiences with online conversations. It was really interesting. So I thought I’d share with you some of the things we learned about making online conversation. But before I get into today’s tips, however, I want to remind you that making conversation is an art, not a science. Although it’s good to benefit from other people’s experiences, still you need to analyze for yourself what is working and what isn’t.

How to Make Conversation Online

The first tip for making online conversations may seem simple, but it emphasizes a fundamental concept that is extremely important. Always remember that conversations have two sides. Social media conversations are interactions between people; it’s not about collecting friends. Yes, it is important to broadcast links that drive traffic to your website, however, it’s equally important, if not more important, to listen, to ask questions, and to solicit opinions. Of course, you’ll also need to respond--to be visible. 

How to Solicit Opinions Online

The NBA Facebook fanpage is great example of an organization that “gets it”. Even if you not a basketball fan, I suggest you “like” their page because you’ll learn a ton of effective techniques for engaging your audience. Yesterday, for example, they posted, “As good as it gets! Tonight is for all the marbles. Who will win Game 7?” Then they used a FB application to poll for results. And what’s interesting is that more people responded in the comments. The point is that people will respond to questions that have no right or wrong answer—especially if it’s something they are passionate about. By asking for personal opinion, people feel more relaxed and are willing to respond both to the original question and to the opinions of other fans. And by the way, the quick and dirty team has learned from our own group experience that, in general, people love polls or quizzes!


About the Author

Lisa B. Marshall

Lisa B. Marshall Lisa holds masters with duel degrees in interpersonal/intercultural communication and organizational communication. She’s the author of Smart Talk: The Public Speaker's Guide to Success in Every Situation, as well as Ace Your Interview, Powerful Presenter, and Expert Presenter. Her work has been featured in CBS Money Watch, Ragan.com, Woman's Day, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and many others. Her institutional clients include Johns Hopkins Medicine, Harvard University, NY Academy of Science, University of Pennsylvania, Genentech, and Roche.