Water Cooler Moments: Sparking Conversations

Jan 24, 2013 | Social Media Communities

“I heard Beyoncé lip synced the National Anthem at Barack Obama’s Inauguration.”
“Did you see Jodie Foster’s speech at the Grammys?”
“What do you think of Lance Armstrong’s confession on Oprah?”

Every day office workers come together to talk and share. They’re not trying to solve world hunger, or what needs to be done on the next project. They’re coming together to chat.

These aren’t planned meetings or events. They’re spontaneous. People bumping into each other at the water cooler, in the hall or at the coffee shop. And these moments create an opportunity to connect, share and have a chat. These are known as “water cooler moments.”

Water cooler moments are as natural as breathing. Humans are social beings, and are programmed to connect and socialize. And water cooler moments are the secret of creating an engaging social media group.

Communities aren’t all business

Social media groups are rarely all about business. Facts, figures and industry trends get boring pretty quickly. An engaging community is far more organic.

The magic of a vibrant online discussion is the back-and-forth dialogue. Community members get engaged on a topic, but the stickiness of the conversation is the sharing of opinions, advice and the banter.

The dialogue makes the discussion interesting. The facts get covered quickly, and then the conversation wraps around opinions.

Opinions make communities interesting

Water cooler moments are driven by opinions. Talking about a sports or TV event is all about how you reacted, what you thought about it, and how it made you feel. Those are the aspects that get shared in the conversation, because the event is simply a point of common interest.

The opinions are what carry the conversation. It’s fascinating to hear someone else’s point of view. Sometimes you’re in total agreement, and you laugh about the situation. Other times you’re at odds, and it sparks an interesting debate or maybe a mini argument. Either way, the sharing of opinions is what makes the discussion fun.

Ask people for their opinion

In social media groups, opinion-based questions go the farthest.

A fact-based conversation may get a response or two, but it quickly falls flat. There’s nothing to convert it into a conversation, or a water cooler moment.

Opinion-based questions trigger dialogue. They work, because there are no wrong answers. You can share freely, and others can agree or disagree. The back and forth creates interest, and sets the discussion up for others to join in and contribute.

To keep your community lively create water cooler moments. Ask questions that encourage others to jump in and participate. Ask questions that you’re genuinely curious about. Get people involved by asking for their opinion on a specific topic or event.

Water cooler moments give your community a spark, and help it grow further, faster.

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Jeremy Miller

Top 30 Brand Guru

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