Let’s think about marketing campaigns: TV, radio, print … you can’t really develop a relationship with someone through any of those marketing channels, can you?
However, with social media, marketers are presented with a way to have two-way conversations with consumers. You can actually develop deeper relationships online … and it doesn’t matter if you’re B2B, B2C, ginormous, or teeny tiny.
The best part?
Compared to the traditional marketing channels social media is pretty low cost.
The Conversation Versus The Campaign
Why are we so hell bent on “Think Conversation, Not Campaign”? Simple. It’s encoded in our DNA to not want to be sold to.
Think about it: When you go to the mall, are you thinking, “Gosh, I hope one of those kiosk dudes rushes up to me and tries to sell me those little smell-good soaps”?
No. No, you are not. And if you are … well, leave me a comment because I want to know you better.
But even if we don’t want to be sold we still have to buy stuff. And the more we know about the stuff we want to buy, the more we trust the person peddling it, and the better our buying experience will be.
And that’s where the conversation and education come in; it’s one of the fundamentals, or 5 Cs, of social media.
Storytelling Differentiates You & Your Brand
Let us not forget storytelling!
Savvy brands are already out there telling their story and using emotional marketing to spark conversation (which then, ironically, becomes part of the campaign).
Storytelling sounds scary. I get that. Especially when you hear social professionals (like me) say over and over again that it’s totally icky to constantly talk about yourself.
Storytelling is different because it’s sprinkled into conversations and makes you “YOU”.
I’ll give you a few examples:
- I have a client who does AMAZING work with special needs children. While helping them with some re-branding and website design the client was explaining why they had dragonflies on their old website — and ended up telling me this amazing sotry about the day they decided to go into business and how this extremely large dragonfly was in their NYC apartment, umteenth floors up, buzzing around their apartment (she also has a dragonfly tattoo and dragonflies symbolize growth and harmony). Now THAT’S a story! I asked her why she hadn’t told it or weaved it throughout their marketing.
- Your vernacular (how you talk) is also part of your story. This sets you apart and can show off your personality – an important part of conversation. Fans of B Squared Media can tell you that we always say things like:
- Awesomesauce = awesomer than awesome
- Peeps = people
- Dude = our lovable mascot
- dude = that guy whose name you don’t know
- dudette = that girl whose name you don’t know
- LURVE = LOVE!
So while it’s not always about you, the story of YOU needs to be intricately woven into your online conversations.
6 Ways To Cultivate Conversations With Customers
Still not sure how to incorporate conversion into your online marketing? Try these six tips on for size …
- First and foremost, let customers know you’re listening. Active listening means spending lots of time and effort on different social media platforms to see where your target demographics are voicing psychographics (opinions, thoughts, beliefs, values) as they pertain to your industry. In particular, it’s smart to listen to — and gather data surrounding — pain points your would-be customers are having with (insert a benefit of your product/service here).
- Develop content that provides value and asks questions. By educating your consumer base on what your company does, and by giving away content that has extreme value, you are empowering your prospects to start building trust with you and your brand. Allow them to ask the hard questions. Let them tell you when they think you’re wrong. Heck, we approve plenty of blog comments that ask hard questions and even say we aren’t helping enough – that’s showing value, too.
- Be transparent. No one is perfect. That and everyone has their own opinion these days. As I mentioned above, the more transparent you are (“Sorry, we totally screwed up!” OR “You know, that’s not my area of expertise but I’d be happy to get you in touch with someone who can help you.” OR “We’re not experts, but we can certainly give you some customer data or pair you with a current client for a testimonial firsthand on how we do things.”) the more your communities will learn to trust you and the more they will see you as an actual authority in your space, and not just someone trying to sell them on their latest and greatest online training package.
- Clearly show your communities where the conversations are happening. Unfortunately, having a few conversations over email isn’t going to cut it. Use ample avenues to have conversations with your prospects through the channels they prefer. And make sure you’re consistent with your availability. Don’t do weekends? Fine. But make sure it’s clearly marked that you’re only using social media as a customer service support channel M-F, or that you only respond once per day/within 24 hours (but at that point, should you really be using social media??).
- Be consistent. Don’t start using G+ only to abandon it. Or perhaps you’re only posting to Instagram in sporadic spurts. Being inconsistent doesn’t help your customers build trust, and only shows that you’re unorganized and unreliable. Similarly, if you’re not using your social channels to interact and have conversations, your people WILL notice.
- Be humble and be HUMAN. Ask for customer recommendations. Say thank you. Get consumer insights and then show how you took what those insights and used them to add value or change something for the better. Building a community is hard for those who think they’re above others, or who constantly put others down, or who jealous of the achievements of others. Admitting mistakes and saying sorry are a BIG part of this, too.
We’ve also got an oldie — but goodie! — post called 26 Reasons To Have More Online Conversations that may help you get brave and get out there!
Campaigns Boost Conversation
Now, before you get in a tizzy saying that I don’t believe in any sort of marketing campaign, let me say that we DO use campaigns and advertising for both our brand and those of our clients.
However, rather than conversations aiding the campaign, the campaign is intertwined with the conversation. In other words, the conversation is the main attraction.
So? What do you think? Are you having enough conversations? Are they fruitful? Do you use them strategically?
Let’s start our own conversation! Let us know what your thoughts on “Think Conversation, Not Campaign” (that’s our tagline, by the way!) in the comments section below.
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