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You can’t make people care

Those people who notice and share your work are heros

So you’re tracking the hits on your blogsite or intranet, and you’re seeing some trends. Perhaps you’ve noted that articles with team photographs or illustrations do well. Maybe you’ve found that esoteric or abstract titles work best, or perhaps your audience prefers direct, meaningful titles.

But even with the best titles, the most relevant images and the most recent breaking news, you can’t make people emotionally care about you or your message.

But some people will care, and these people are your champions – treat them well!

Within your company, if you’re publishing and distributing material (intranet, company magazine et cetera) you should take note of the people who send you feedback. You should learn the names of the people who point out errors, or ask for further information, or ask for clarification. These people care about what you’ve produced, and they’re the ones who will be talking about your stuff to their colleagues, team members and managers.

Whatever people have to say about your work or your messages, be sure to respond in a positive and respectful manner. I see too many professionals responding to brief query emails with even briefer answers. Answering the query is not enough – this is a real opportunity to engage directly with the audience, the workforce, and have a personal impact. Answering the query is not enough; you must:

  1. demonstrate that you’ve have heard and understood the query / concern – this means reflecting back their very own sentiments to the querent without judgment. Consider it ‘active listening’;
  2. explain that you can understand why they’ve brought this matter up with you;
  3. thank them for bringing the matter to you (as opposed to just grumbling about it to everyone in their department);
  4. address the matter directly, explaining enough of your background thought processes to justify your answer – there’s no need to be aggressive or defensive, just be conversational;
  5. demonstrate your willingness to be flexible; let them know that you might well consider this issue again in the future or perhaps you’ll discuss it with your team / manager at your next team meeting;
  6. thank them again for their email / phone call and let them know you’re open and available for anything more.

Does that sound do-able? Is it close to what you do already?

When I get shoddy service, even inside the company I work for, I shut down and cut the responsible person out of my work-life. They become dead to me, and I only interact with them ‘politely’ from then on.

Don’t piss me off, or you’ll never make it to the top of my priority list (and remember, you need me to promote your department, whereas I don’t need your department much at all).

When I get fantastic service, advice, content, guidance, ideas – I get all excited, and want to share and promote the person who has thoughtfully inspired me. This is part of my ‘Three Goal Words’ – RSS – Respond, Smile & Share.

But it also blushingly pleases me (my erogenous zones are all mostly online) when someone says I’m giving decent service, and they go on to promote me and my work. So many thanks to @C Brogan who twittered about me last year, and now thanks to @shonali for tweeting about me. When people recommend other people, those who listen to them take notice. Word of mouth and personal recommendations are gold, don’t you agree? So, hopefully, I’ve got a few more readers, and I know I’ve got scores of new ‘followers’ on Twitter, so plenty of opportunity to make new connections with people – lovely.

Personal recommendations exist inside your company / corporation too. Don’t you take notice when your colleague says “I’m not sure, email Josh; he knows all about this” – so when you go to Josh, you’re really polite and you’re really grateful for his help You respect his knowledge / experience and in turn you recommend him to other people in your company, even though Josh isn’t in your departmental silo.

I must keep reminding myself about my three word goals / approaches – RSS – Respond, Smile & Share. Sharing other people’s expertise is good for them, and it’s good for you, because people will see you as a ‘connector’ and in this ‘people network’ day and age, connecting people is a valuable skill. So who can you talk about this week? Who can you recommend?

Apologies if I’ve flitted from subject to subject today, but I’m recognising that you can’t demand attention, but you can create valuable content that is meaningful enough to people that some of them talk about it and share it. These people are your champions, treat them as heroes!

[Wedge]

P.S. I updated the footer of my blogsite, check out the bottom of this page :) You like?

About Wedge

I’m Wedge, and this is my website! I’ve worked within internal communications since 2004, managing intranets and digital comms. Now I’m a freelance comms and intranet specialist - I help organisations plan and improve their intranets. I work with other agencies, and write a lot of blog and magazine articles. I founded the Intranet Now conference. You can catch up with me on Twitter - I’m @Wedge.

7 thoughts on “You can’t make people care

  • Some great thoughts, Wedge. I think you’re right. It’s important to create connections on the Net that are meaningful. Championing the people who do good work is an important part of social media. It’s not all about talking what “I’m doing”. I get so fed up with people constantly tweeting their me-me-me posts. I tend to ignore (or unfollow) these but check out good recommendations.

    That said, I am following one UK-based copywriter who is so painfully self-centered just for the sheer horror of it. I’m curious to see how long she can keep it up.

    The footer’s groovy; I like it.

    PS. How about adding a Twitter ID field to your comment details. I’ve seen this on a few WP blogs recently. It’s a good way of following people that make good comments.

  • Hi Jon, well if there’s anything around here bigger than my ego I want it caught and shot!

    I don’t mind learning from what other people are doing; I like to read about their passions, but of course, that’s different to self-promotion… then again, as a freelancer (you work for yourself, right?) you must spend a good percentage of your time marketing yourself? That must be tough at times.

    Hmm, will have to learn how to create a new field for Twitter in my comments; I expect it will need a new entry in my database, so it won’t be too easy for me. Then again, perhaps there’s a WordPress Plug-in that can do it for me?

  • I use “WP -> Twitter” and “Twitme” although they’re not coping with stuff that I schedule rather than just publish straight away.

    If you find better plugins for Twittering, please do share with us your thoughts on them.

  • Hi Nathanael – this is a different subject to Jon’s Twitter query.

    I have also found that my current Twitter plug-ins have *just* started failing me, after months of brilliant service. I’m moving to ‘Twitter for WordPress’ and ‘WordTwit’ (which seems to need downloading from http://www.bravenewcode.com/wordtwit/ ).

  • A great blog post and some fantastic thoughts.

    I also agree that people within your company who are helpful and open to share their expertise need to rewarded with gratitude and referrals.

    I have a list of people within my company and try to remember their interests and expertise and will pass on any information that I think they will enjoy.

    All of these little things will help develop ambassadors that will help the company achieve success with their programmes and their staff!

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