“Social Media is people having conversations online” – Marta Z Kagan.
This in my opinion is the most simple yet apt definition of social media that can ever be. Once you start connecting the dots you’ll realize that’s indeed what social media is all about. Be it the latest craze aka microblogging sites, conversational tool/services, social-networking sites or any other media sharing site. While the social objects may differ from service to service the end goal for most is to get people talking/commenting around those objects. Since humans are by nature social and love talking/discussing/debating conversations are the ultimate hooks for a site and if done rightly can do wonders to a site’s engagement.
Wait for a second and think what was your last activity on your favorite site ? Mine was commenting on a comment someone made at a friend’s facebook status. Facebook does a great job in providing these hooks to let people have conversations. It started off with a simple wall, then it was user uploaded images/videos and now its status messages. Comment chains on people’s status messages is getting common by the day. According to me any site that needs to grow and be successful needs to handle conversations extremely well and give it all it takes.
Here’s a brief comparison of how some sites that I’ve used/still use handle conversations.
Each of these features/attributes play an important part in the conversation game. People might not realize it consciously but these features/attributes help in forming hooks that keep people engaged to conversations and in effect increase site’s stickiness.
Threaded Conversations make it extremely easy to keep track of comments/replies around an object.
Parallel Conversations is a purely online experience. Unlike real life with the context switching issue you can online have parallel(almost) conversations with someone or a group on different topics. What it means is that its really difficult offline to have conversations with someone on two-three different topics simultaneously/parallely for long but its far easier online(in some services).
No Character Limit lets people express their views/thoughts without any restriction thus enabling proper discussions/debates.
Follow up Notifications lets people stay in touch with conversations they like which in effect means that people are always connected to a conversation and any activity even weeks/months of inactivity can infuse life again. Conversations are now immortal.
Comment Feed lets you own not only the comments on your objects but also on other people’s objects. You can know take your comments and use them the way you want.
We at kwippy have added a new dimension to the equation by introducing the “Invite people to join/begin a conversation feature” to make the conversation mix more engaging. How have your experiences been with on-site conversations ? What do you think can make conversations more sticky ?