With the web being much more social today than in the last couple of years, many online entrepreneurs are taking advantage of this trend.Â They are making their websites more interactive.Â They are participating on community sites like forums, blogs, and voting sites like Digg and StumbleUpon.
With all this social activity, the big question for businesses seems to be, “How do you actually interact and communicate with internet users to increase sales?”
Understanding the Average Internet User
To answer this question effectively, you need to understand the mindset of the average internet user.
The average user is not looking so much for slick packaging but authenticity.
Why authenticity?Â Because in a social atmosphere like the social web, people act like people.Â They don’t act like businesses.
The proper metaphor for the web is not an upscale retail store or stuffy office environment where employees interact with customers using “Sir” and “Ma’am”.
No, the web is much more like a laid-back pub or coffeehouse where people hang out.Â These people value community and being real.
You may be wondering, since the web is like this, how does one do business?Â You’re thinking, business doesn’t get done in a coffeehouse.
Well, maybe not the actual sale.Â But realize that when people hang out, they often make product and service recommendations and non-recommendations.Â Also, they show off their purchases.
Here are the type of conversations that go on all over the world, offline and online.
In a pub: “My car is having problems.Â Could you recommend a trustworthy mechanic?Â I went ABC Mechanic last month and they ripped me off.”
In a Starbucks: “Check out my iPhone.Â It’s awesome.”
On Twitter: “Does anyone know if XYZ Web Hosting provides good service and 99% uptime?”
On a blog: “I just got my big screen TV from John Doe’s online store.Â I definitely would recommend him to anybody.”
If you come off like a business person, you won’t have success.Â But if you interact with them like a real person, like a friend that actually wants to help, you’ll gain their trust. And trust is what leads to repeat sales and positive recommendations.
Aaron Wall wrote on page 68 of his discontinued SEO Book:
Write in a conversational tone, as a person, not a company.
Fake fluffery does not go well on the web. People can smell it a mile away. Since the Web started as a non-commercial entity, there are certain etiquettes (or netiquettes) that dictate how we should act. When we go outside these basic ideas, we not only avoid conversion, but also are likely to offend our readers.
Many of the people who have bought this e-book told me they bought it because I sounded honest and real. Some of my blog posts are somewhat random, personal, or humorous, and some people like that.
This is coming from a guy who’s sold over 13,000 copies of his ebook. Many of those were at the price point of $79 before the ebook was repackaged into a training program.
Evaluate Your Business
Look at the text on your website.
- Is it boring, bland, and filled with ambigious, overused corporate jargon?
- If you have a blog, are you writing in a conversational tone?
- Do you have pictures of you and your staff?
Think about how you communicate on social/community websites.
- Do you write like a real person that seeks to help?Â Or are you still in the impersonal, corporate mode?