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September 10, 2008

Thanks NASBLA!

Thank you to Ron Sarver, Gail Kulp and the entire staff and membership of NASBLA for hosting me today at your annual convention. It was a real honor to be one of your keynote speakers at your annual meeting, and I hope I was able to provide you with a basic understanding of what social media is, and how it can help you keep boaters safe. To summarize, here are the main things you need to keep in mind if you are thinking about getting involved in social media communications:

1. Markets are conversations: Realize that advertising is unidirectional and increasingly unbelievable or invisible to many consumers. More and more, the public you are trying to reach expects an authentic two-way conversation. Give it to them and you will be more trusted.
2. Lurk before you leap: At a cocktail party, you don’t just barge into any old group conversation and start talking to people. You circle the room, size up the groups, checking out the people, finding a group that looks right for you to join. Same principles apply in social media.
3. The best communicators start as the best listeners: Once you’ve chosen to engage in a group, you don’t just take over the conversation. You introduce yourself, listen to what others are saying, strive to understand what is being discussed, and respond to questions if asked.
4. Join in: Once you’ve developed an understanding of your conversation-mates, then you start to really engage in the conversation. You share useful information. You talk, and when others talk, you listen. You act like yourself. The more you act like yourself, the more people will consider you to be “a person like me” and trust you.
5. Yield control: Think of yourself as a guest in someone’s home. Don’t try to dominate the conversation. Occasionally you will get attacked over something. Respond to criticism politely and tell your side of the story. With any luck, by this point you will have won a few advocates and converts who will come to your aid. You might not even have to respond to criticism: Others will do it for you.

Practical next step:

Go to and set up e-mail alerts for:
• Your agency’s URL
• Your agency’s name (as well as any abbreviations or derivatives)
• The names of popular boating areas in your jurisdiction

As alerts come in, reply to blog posts, forum discussions, and participate in any other places where relevant conversations are happening.

If you are considering starting a blog, you might find my seven tips for new bloggers to be useful.

If you have any questions for me, please contact me by e-mail: bkmcae at gmail dot com.

Thanks again, and safe travels!

Tagged: ; ; ;


Ron Sarver said...

Ben - Thank you for a fantastic presentation. I think you reached a lot of people in our association who only knew the phrase "social media" but had no idea what it's all about. You gave them precisely the correct amount of information and basic instruction on getting started. Thanks again.

Ben Martin, CAE said...

Glad I could be there, Ron. I just wish I could have stayed longer!