Just had a lol moment. You know, "Laugh Out Loud" in response to something on the Internet. Except, of course, I didn't really laugh out loud. Well, my brain did. At the bottom of an advert email from a Big Lots was an array of social media icons with the exhortation, "Join the Conversation!"
What kind of conversations are people having about Big Lots? What kind of conversations are people having with Big Lots? Okay, I'll bite. I took a look on Twitter. The Big Lots account pushes out promotions....okay, here's a response to a compliment...there's a response to a complaint...Well, better than some. But all thanks tweets are just about identical, and same with responses to complaints.
Do people actually talk about Big Lots on Twitter? Amazingly enough, they do. Some of my favorites:
@WILDcnservativE: U kno u getting old when u sign up for a big lots card
@alowee13: The big lots Black Friday commercial is the most annoying commercial in the world
@nurenbergallie: My mom and I just go to big lots and Home Depot for fun now what is wrong with us
@RobbLarry: Big Lots commercials are just ideas that didn't fly with other retailers
@wickedwych: The big lots Christmas commercials are the best Christmas commercials
@isabellalutley: every night I get into bed and my last thought is always "why am I not cool enough to hang out in the big lots parking lot"
So maybe this isn't the kind of conversation Big Lots had in mind. But any mention is money in the bank for your brand, right?
@Old_Town_Saloon: Just to clear the air there was NOT a stabbing at Old Town, the stabbing was in front of Big Lots. So come out a party tonight!!
Really good social media conversation is actually two-way, you know: conversation. I think some people doing "social media engagement" for commercial brands just don't get it. Customers who turn to Twitter to resolve a problem or ask a question will soon tire of preprogrammed accounts that exist only to push out content, for instance.
Truth be told, the best conversations I've had on Twitter have been about teaching, the arts, affordable housing, discussing articles about place-making and community building. Those are the conversations that happen organically, not driven by cute themed brand "chats" with prizes awarded, or tweets about how product X will improve my holiday season.