Thanks for the invite, @apm.
Intro: I am not a Google+ refugee. I’ve never kept a blog. I don‘t have an interactive website. I rarely post to Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram anymore (although I still have open accounts). Why am I here?
I’m going to hazard a guess that it’s because some of my conversations have spurred a lot of discussion. (As Chris has noticed, I have also deliberately started some “conversations” in ways that discourage discussion, too.)
Since I really don’t ever start a conversation with the goal in mind to “go viral” or “jack up the views” this workshop got me thinking about what it is I have done that has made these things happen. In retrospect, I think these things have played a part:
1. I don’t have a schedule I have to meet. I can go weeks without posting anything—I don’t ever feel pressured to keep things current or establish a presence.
2. The topics I write/ask about are genuinely of interest to me at the moment. My mind is grabbing stuff from all over the place about this particular topic, and I am curious what others think about it, too, so I start a conversation about it. Maybe readers can sense my genuine interest? I hope so.
3. As others have said, I try to really hone my question(s). I have a lot of experience with questioning (I have been a teacher), so that is really the crux of a conversation-starter in my mind. Be careful with your questions! Thoughtful people (the ones you hope will respond to your post) can spot a fluff-question a mile away. Fluff questions say, “I’m ending this post with a question because somebody told me that’s how I get engagement.” IMHO, the worst fluff question of all time is “What do you think?” When I see a fluff question like that, suddenly the whole post feels condescending, disingenuous, and manipulative so I move on. I don’t even lurk! Hahaha.
4. I am prepared to let the conversation shape itself. Some discussions move at lightning speed—others percolate over time. I have actually searched for other people’s conversations I remember from months ago in order to post another comment with a new perspective or new information. (When that happens, you know your conversation really did have an impact on someone’s thinking! An example of quality over quantity!)
5. I have a background in visual arts, so a good image is a powerful bonus in my book, but not absolutely necessary. If the headline is a grabber (that accurately conveys the gist of the post), that works too.