10 Ways to Spark Social Media Conversations (with Examples)

September 13, 2023 9 min read

Cameron Johnson

Cameron Johnson

Tips for Small Businesses to Lead the Social Media Conversation

Posting social media marketing content and hearing nothing but crickets is frustrating. Sparking meaningful conversations around your brand is among the biggest challenges content marketing teams face. 

The secret to a great social media presence isn’t only content. It’s about fostering conversations, too. Keeping that dialogue flowing requires you to set the stage first.

For trend-setting brands, social media management isn’t just about posting; they’ve mastered the art of online conversation and shaping interactions around real-life experiences.

Ready to make the switch from monologue to dialogue? Read on to learn how to drive the social media conversation forward and get inspired by the best icebreakers out there.

Why Social Media Conversations Matter

There’s more than what meets the eye in social media. There are three reasons conversational content is an important consideration in a social media strategy:

1) Achieve news feed optimization. Every reply, like, click, and retweet contributes to your brand’s social media engagement. The traditional, reverse-chronological stream of social updates is almost nonexistent these days. Social networks use algorithms to surface content most likely to keep users active and interacting. This helps your next post reach a larger audience and fuel more engagement.

2) Personifying your brand helps you stand out. Out of millions of businesses, what makes customers do business with you? Being memorable is crucial to being considered trusted. One way to establish yourself is with conversational content. It’s a simple way to speak to your audience with empathy and direct language.

3) A unique point of view helps drive your marketing strategy. Successful brands carry distinct values. The old social media marketing playbook is to schedule static, corporate-sounding content. The modern digital marketing approach is to get the conversation going with clever, even controversial hooks from a compelling perspective.

Tips to Master Social Media Conversations

🤔 Understand your audience’s motives

Before the conversation begins, invest some time in understanding your community inside out. 

Gain clarity on the pain points and passions that resonate with your followers. This helps build trust and genuine connections and leads to more fulfilling conversations.

Whether you have five followers, 5K, or 50K, dive into your social media platform metrics to learn more about your audience. Examine each post for what drives the most reach, comments, and shares.

Social media conversational analytics by Nextiva

Social media management tools like Nextiva provide invaluable insights into your audience’s demographics, interests, and behaviors across multiple networks, including Twitter (now known as “X”), Facebook pages, LinkedIn, YouTube, and many more. 

🔄 Think of social media as a flywheel

It’s time to move beyond the outdated model of a rigid funnel. Treating social media as an isolated entity rather than an integral part of your marketing strategy is where you might be going wrong. 

The objective is to use social media to raise awareness of and affinity for your small business. Online conversations are the tripwire to becoming trusted and considered and to driving sales.

This is where a marketing flywheel comes in handy. 

A flywheel focuses on the momentum customers create as they promote and introduce others to your brand. Unlike a funnel, a flywheel promotes ongoing customer engagement and referrals.

Two marketing approaches: the funnel vs. the flywheel - HubSpot
The flywheel effect maximizes your marketing efforts (via HubSpot)

For brick-and-mortar stores and e-commerce brands, initiating conversations from offline marketing can drive significant social media conversations. This can be done through in-store signage or collateral included in product packages, encouraging happy customers to engage with you online.

What’s more, incentivizing engagement is sure to drive even greater results. Offering rewards, even small ones, for social shares or comments shows your appreciation for their time.

Facilitate easy conversation starters

For people to engage with your brand, you must make your social media profiles, topics of conversation, and relevant hashtags visible. People need a subtle reminder of what’s in it for them — “Follow us on TikTok” isn’t enough. Convey why in the most concise way possible.

Consider a monthly focus on a theme or topic and promote it prominently in your social media bios, newsletter welcome emails, and during the post-purchase process, driving your audience to participate.

Here are five simple ways to promote your social media presence and events:

  • Social media bios: A primary touchpoint for your newest followers.
  • Product packaging: Reach customers who engage with your physical products.
  • Website or blog: Getting traffic from search engines? This is often the first impression of your brand. Promote your own social media campaigns throughout your website.
  • Email newsletters: Delight your loyal customers with an insider’s point of view. Consider public surveys, product review campaigns, and insightful infographics.
  • Industry-specific communities: Reach a targeted audience actively interested in your content or industry. By being altruistic in your intentions, you’ll build your audience.

Related: How to Make a Social Media Plan: Crafting an Effective Strategy

10 Ways to Start a Conversation Online

1) Use conversation starters in your campaigns

Many campaigns miss out on the benefits of social media.

The best social campaigns get people talking, sharing, and reposting your content. If your marketing launch isn’t harnessing the power of social media, then you’ll miss out on impressions, reach, and engagement.

Social media scheduling software by Nextiva.

Try asking your customers an open-ended question to give them a simple prompt to engage. For instance, sharing information about what/why/how they use your product is a good start.

2) Monitor conversations about your industry

Stop talking about yourself. Seriously.

Be proactive and seek out worthwhile conversations occurring within the industry, but not about your company brand.

Participating from your personal social media account instead of your company’s can speak volumes about what you stand for. It telegraphs your passion and authority on the topic.

Tools like Nextiva’s social media software let you easily track and respond to mentions of your brand (and competitors). Taking this initiative allows you to highlight and share positive feedback while promptly addressing concerns or complaints when it matters most.

3) Go deeper with podcasts

Podcasts offer a unique opportunity to share long-form content and connect with your audience on a deeper level. By hosting insightful discussions, interviews, or storytelling sessions, you can establish yourself as an authority and extend the conversation beyond short posts.

Repurposed podcast video snippets can invigorate your Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and LinkedIn feeds as well, giving a much-needed boost to dormant algorithms on social media platforms.

If you’re in need of inspiration, some top branded podcasts include:

4) Ask your audience what they want

If you’re confused about what your audience wants to see from you, just ask! Using interactive features like question stickers or creating posts that prompt feedback can give you invaluable insights. 

Better yet, give them options. Platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, and X’s polling features make it easy and quick for your audience to provide feedback.

Don’t have a large audience? Call a few of your best customers to gather feedback. In a warm and inviting way, uncover what prominent voices they follow on social media and why. This will often clue you into future topics worth digging into.

5) Utilize native engagement features

Social media platforms continuously roll out features that help you boost engagement rates. Here are some tactics that make it easier for your audience to engage with you:

  • Go live. Connect with your audience in real time. Showcase behind-the-scenes glimpses, host interviews, or simply have a candid chat. Live sessions encourage more active participation.
  • Post polls. Gauge audience opinions on various topics or gather feedback. LinkedIn and Twitter offer intuitive and easy polling tools.
  • Engage in Twitter chats. Unbranded chats build community and establish authority in your domain.
  • Host AMA sessions. Connect with your audience and directly address their questions, curiosities, and concerns.

Take this Chili Piper poll from their LinkedIn account, for example:

Chili Piper uses the polling feature effectively in their LinkedIn marketing
LinkedIn’s polling feature raises engagement and ignites conversations

By choosing a taboo topic and approaching it with candor, Chili Piper is able to connect with its B2B audience on a matter that is both professional and personal. This was one of their most engaged posts of the month. 

6) Leave candid comments

For more engagement, simply liking comments won’t be enough. 

Treat all comments as invitations to start a conversation and get others involved as well. After all, that’s where half of the fun happens.

Take the conversation further by engaging with your community and potential new followers on a hot topic. When a comment garners more likes than others, use the opportunity to amplify it and turn it into a conversation. 

Don’t forget to have fun. Use emojis to convey your excitement, as well as well-played GIFs.

7) Enlist influencers and bloggers

Partnering with influencers and bloggers can be a game-changer for small businesses. As HubSpot reports, 31% of social media users prefer to discover new products through influencers as opposed to any other form of marketing. What’s more, 21% of social media users aged 18–54 have purchased products based on an influencer’s recommendation.

Percentage of each generation who bought a product based on an influencer’s recommendation in the past three months – HubSpot
Percentage of each generation who bought a product based on an influencer’s recommendation in the past three months – (via HubSpot

By tapping into their communities, you’re introducing your brand to wider audiences and aligning it with the trust and rapport that they’ve established. The result? Increased engagement, brand awareness, and conversions, all while fostering deeper connections with potential customers.

The project management app ClickUp recently teamed up with UX/UI designer Jan Mraz to showcase how he uses the tool. Using Instagram’s collaboration feature, they amplified their message to their nearly 250,000 followers, making this post one of their most-watched reels. 

ClickUp collaborates with a UX/UI designer to showcase software

8) Amplify existing conversations

Whether your founder appeared on a podcast or was interviewed by a magazine, these off-social conversations can be amplified and distributed across social media. 

Invite your social community into the fold by getting them involved. Repost snippets from the interview and ask your audience for their thoughts on the discussed topics.

9) Make memes your best friend

Nothing gets the conversation going like a relatable meme. 

Take this Forma post that resonates with the emotional desires of their ideal customer. A well-crafted meme that relates to your business and uses humor to make its point is a win-win for everyone involved.

Forma ai linkedin post example meme

In another post, Metadata jumped on a viral Volvo Trucks ad featuring Jean-Claude Van Damme and made it their own. The post generated a higher engagement rate from their followers, opening the door to more conversations.

10) Optimize your content for each platform

Not all social networks are created equal. Optimizing your content for each platform can have a dramatic effect on engagement.

What goes viral on TikTok might not resonate on Snapchat. Instagram rewards visually appealing content, while LinkedIn thrives on professional insights and discussions.

By tailoring your content for each platform, you’re maximizing your potential reach and ensuring that it speaks the language of the platform’s user base. Increase the chances of driving engagement by aligning your content with your audience’s specific wants, interests, and needs.

Related: Best Brands on Social Media: 10 Inspiring Examples to Follow

Tracking Social Media Interactions

Keeping track of social media conversations can be overwhelming, but only if you let it be.

Using social media management tools can scale your workflow and consolidate all of your online interactions in one place. Doing so will not only save you time — it’ll save your sanity.

Nextiva helps you stay on top of media conversations with ease.
Nextiva helps you stay on top of media conversations with ease.

Tools like Nextiva’s social media management platform are must-haves for small business teams that are tired of logging into each of their apps to stay connected.

Whether conversing in your DMs or answering pressing customer service questions via WhatsApp, being attentive to your customer’s needs is always easier when every conversation is in one place.

Plan ahead: social media conversations can go wrong

Some online conversations can get heated and do real damage if left unattended.

Save yourself the headache and put together a social media crisis plan. In it, provide specific scenarios, templates, phone numbers, and escalation paths for your team to make decisions with a cool head when the conversations go awry.

That’s why hiring a community moderator can be a wise investment. These individuals are responsible for starting and guiding conversations. They’re also adept at responding to negative reviews.

Having proactive strategies and guidelines in place prepares you for the worst and helps you build a solid online presence.

Master the Art of Social Media Conversation

Conversations are the heartbeat of social engagement. They foster deep connections, elevate your brand, and transform followers into loyal advocates.

On a tactical level, it means incorporating a more distinct voice, fun emojis, and creative prompts to elicit a response from your audience.

Strategically, fortifying your marketing strategy with simple ways to ignite conversations adjacent to your brand helps you scale results. As we’ve seen with leading brands, fostering genuine connections is what it comes down to.

By getting to know your audience, harnessing the power of conversation starters, maximizing each platform’s features and algorithm, and using the right tools, small businesses can thrive in the dynamic world of social media.

Countless conversations are waiting to be had — are you ready?

Cameron Johnson


Cameron Johnson

Cameron Johnson was a market segment leader at Nextiva. Along with his well-researched contributions to the Nextiva Blog, Cameron has written for a variety of publications including Inc. and Business.com. Cameron was recently recognized as Utah's Marketer of the Year.

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