Become The Water Cooler Moment
Being relevant to others can make you the water cooler moment, trust me it does.
The Collins Dictionary definition of a water cooler moment is broadly defined as being able to ‘provide subject matter for conversations.’ What an opportunity we all have to now be part of other peoples worlds by engaging with them in such a way that they will talk, share and interact with others about you. That’s the key part from the dictionary definition in that we ‘provide’ content for others to dissect and share that is on a level that entertains and aids a discussion.
Those Agency Days
During my agency days those moments away from the desk and moving to more communal areas became perks of the 9 to 5 world. These were moments to share with others what we’ve watched, what we’ve listened to and the stories where a wider audience was there to appreciate. No one ever shared a story that had no soul or didn’t resonate with them. If the conversation ran dry then the next topic of conversation was swiftly moved onto.
This is where we are as businesses today, where we can become the water cooler moments. We can create our own spaces where people congregate around us. There is an abundance of water coolers for everyone at the moment. These represent the spaces that we can claim as our own.
The stories that come from the water cooler has to have the ability to engage with others and not take the world too seriously. Our water cooler lets us share experiences and lessons, as an example:
THIS IS NOT A WATER COOLER MOMENT….
THIS IS A WATER COOLER MOMENT….
The social web has allowed us to become much more intimate than we have ever been. We can create and curate these moments through our websites, our blogs, our podcasts and our video. We can now make it an art form and create places of meaning, that others connect with and want to be part of.
Much like the office environment, when it comes to the conversations in the public spaces we are competing with everyone during those moments when people are together. For others to pay attention to us, we can shape how we want to be presented and how this is delivered.
When people make their way to the water cooler on the first floor, they do so because they feel comfortable there. The people and conversations around it are what they can relate to.
This is exactly the same for our businesses. When we approach our audience, we can direct conversation to those where the subject matter is relevant to and then on a more one-to-one level. I email to my audience every week the ‘You Are The Media’ newsletter. This then moves to a more one-to-one level when the conversation continues on email with maybe a comment on an article and to build a discussion further becomes more social, rather than product led. This is what the water cooler represents, it’s the place where others engage, share stories and discuss. The water cooler represents the source where people gather.
We all thrive via social interaction and it is still paramount within a business context. What we are as water coolers is providing people the reason to react and to provide them relevance and a way to make a bond even stronger, no matter how good the competition is.
Our audiences want us to be compelling so we’re not the same old tired conversation piece. The water cooler moment becomes empty if it is just a loud one-way conversation of pure self-indulgence. Those people who once converged, now have moved to the ‘other’ space on the third floor, that’s in a darker corner, but at least the moments shared are still pretty good.
As businesses we need to find ways for our audience to gather around us and know that we are here for them. It is a privilege that we can now create and share. However many businesses still adopt the approach that we want to know more about their product, rather than the stories that make up the business and how they can be relevant to us as consumers. I have absolutely no interest in reading on LinkedIn about a new appointment for a local solicitor. However I would be interested to find out more if there are prompts that are relevant to my life, such as what happens if you don’t make a will. By the way, nearly 30 million people in the UK do not have a will, according to unbiased.co.uk. Be interesting to know what happens when things go bad, rather than about Alan who has joined as a trainee from University.
Lets stop taking ourselves too seriously. The water cooler moments are there for others to relate to and socialise. Lets leave the more serious discussion to the places that deserve a more private environment that isn’t privy to a larger audience to be part of. Having said that, lets leave the trivial content to the throwaway comment across the desk, not in the spaces that people gather round and have taken the time to be entertained. There is far too much of it at the moment and I can guarantee that if someone stood by the water cooler reciting Tony Robbins, Ghandi, Zig Ziglar, Napoleon Hill quotes, then everyone else will move somewhere else, very quickly.
We all have the opportunity to become the water cooler moment and to make others feel welcome. The people who meet at different times of the day are drawn to the space for the relevance that it provides and the sharing that it delivers. This is exactly what our businesses need to become where we are recognised as a hub that can challenge, entertain and inform others.
Even when the 20-litre bottle runs out, there is another full bottle ready to keep the conversation going.