Social media is, well, social. Interaction is part of the experience and expectation. If this is your first blog or foray into the scene, you are probably going to be doing a lot more of the work than those individuals or companies that have an established presence. And by presence I mean "voice" - what they bring to the table as evaluated and valued by the people they interact with.
Is conversational marketing just the engagement of social media by a corporation to promote their product and brand? Many seem to think so. Even when your tone of voice is lower than a shout, there is a lot more to the conversation than just promotion. In fact, I can think of at least ten ideas.
- It's about how what we say and do connects with the person in the room with us. We are not nearly as clever and interesting as we'd like to think. Most behaviors and ideas spread through populations because of what the members of the populations do or think or say in response to each other. Mark Earls thinks this is what Cluetrain meant when they talked about markets being conversations.
- It's an ongoing experience, you are never done. And you are probably judged just on the last interaction, although there is significant capital you can count on when you invest in having the interaction in the first place. We are all moving very fast these days. At times our paths cross just like ships in the night.
- It's still wise to know what you're about and the value(s) you bring. In marketing we talk about value propositions all the time. These are the benefits you bring to the table, as seen by your customers. Rick Becker talks about a bell curve between company-speak and customer-speak. The truth, and value, is often somewhere in between, where the conversation takes place.
- It's the expectation that something will happen instantly that changes dynamics. The truth is that nothing may happen for a long time, before something happens. On the other hand, there are many things happening behind the scenes. Thinking is shifting, even your posture is, as you experiment with formats and rhythm.
- It's a way to stimulate your innovative juices. Think about it. How often do you get stuck in one way of looking at an issue, one use for a product, or service. When you put the idea out there, all of a sudden, new possibilities materialize. You may even gain enough momentum to refine your new use. Seth Godin writes: pushing an idea through the dip of acceptance is far more valuable than inventing something that's never existed... and then walking away from it.
- It's more than talk, it's the action that follows. I would not want to give you the impression that conversation means just talk, although talk can change our lives. Jake McKee posts about an apology by Southwest Airlines. The tone is in their signature style, the action follows the words.
- It's how allowing yourself to be out there enriches what you do in here (your business). In fact, by being immersed in the conversation, you may forget what you thought you knew, and get to see things from a new angle. Roger von Oech writes about how we should practice forgetting to have insights.
- It's not a distraction, it's an investment. Many do not see it that way because it seems like an unnecessary drain of resources and time. You make an investment in learning from others while staying centered in what you're about.
- It's a reason to move faster from creativity, to creation. Stephen Denny said it best - it's not about delivering interesting stuff against pre-established deadlines. It's about becoming the producer of original content that adds value to the conversation. If you have been using social media, you know what we are talking about. In the rare instances in which you are in an advanced marketing strategy role, you may know what this means, what it feels like. It's about packaging an idea in a truly compelling fashion and selling it so that people want to buy your service, or product.
- It's the surest path to grow your business. Co-creation has been around for a little while. It is only now that we are beginning to see some headway on results. Mick Stravellin talks about how co-creation is the way forward. It is like opening the big ivory tower big companies seem to live in. Conversation may allow you to take your business to where growth is next.
There is so much more to conversation than just promotion. Conversation is how ongoing value(s) instantly stimulate action allowing investment to grow. It starts with you.