What does it mean to design a conversation on social media? To begin, you must have a firm grasp on the contributing parts of a conversation with both written and visual language in mind.

All design has three legs: form, function and intention. Form is achieved through the personality you embed in the written tone and the style of your visual language. The function is the intended message delivered to an audience. Intention is to identify why you are having the conversation. Hint: selling something isn’t a great intention to starting a conversation.

Design of a conversation, if done right, offers thoughtful consideration for how the recipient of a message feels.

1. Social and emotional awareness. Social media is a bombardment of billions of tiny cannons when managed in the wrong way. When conversations in social media are designed, the message arrives at the right time and makes an emotional connection with the recipient.

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To better connect with your audiences, you must first find your voice to give your messages form. Find confidence in your perspective and make it simplified, real and digestible.

Social is not only about followers, likes, sales, marketing or advertising. Although these things make us feel affirmed in our social standing, it is the outcome, not the origin. The core of social is in the conversations you design. Great conversations happen between people who are interested in the emotions of each other.

What does this mean in planning for social media? Find new ways to connect with your audiences to form how they will feel when interacting with your brand. For example, create personal Twitter lists such as “People: Hilarious,” “People: Magical” and “People: Authentic” to design an emotional response.

2. Find pools of passionate audiences. When considering the emotional state of audiences, some see love as the goal and anger as the emotion to avoid. Instead, the goal is for the audience to be highly emotional, avoiding indifference. Anger is merely a highly emotional state and can often be turned into love if handled appropriately.

Once you’ve come to accept the importance of emotion, it’s then a matter of seeking audience pools with highly emotional engagement.

These audiences may not fit your typical psychographic or demographic profiles, but they should be active and engaged in a related subject matter. As a business owner, defining the five most essential audience pools will help to elevate engagement, purchases and loyalty.

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3. Key messages for each audience. Once you’ve defined your five most essential audiences, you must identify what you want to say to each audience and your intention for creating each conversation. What do they care about the most? How do you want to make them feel? By answering these questions and forming specific messaging for each audience, you will capture their attention, make them feel heard and build a meaningful, lasting and trusting relationship.

How do you put this into action? Write down words, headlines and phrases for each audience pool that will inspire the types of conversations you want to have with them, which is the function of the design.

4. Design visual language. Everyone knows that a picture is worth a thousand words, but few understand which words. We consume visual language first -- make judgments, decisions and have emotional responses -- then we consume written language. This means a first impression is a visual impression. If it isn’t appropriate, emotionally engaging or distinctive, the conversation doesn’t start in the right place.

The design of visual language is a process of making sure what you say in written form matches what you’re communicating in visual form. This includes consideration for typography, colors, photography style and illustrations, which all contribute to your visual language and orchestrate the first impression.

Design at its best treats its audience with respect. It initiates dialogue, invites participation, exceeds expectations and creates an emotional bond.

As Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Design conversations with your audiences. They will show their appreciation in referrals, loyalty and more business.

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