Friday, July 18, 2008

Social Media and Conversation

Now that the students are blogging (see My Blog List on the right to view their blogs - and you should!), they are beginning to have a different understanding of what it means to converse with customers. We spent quite a bit of time discussing what works and what doesn't in a blog, using Denali Ice Cream and their blogs Moosetopia and FreeMoneyFinance (a non-ice cream blog, but "sponsored" by Moosetracks). We also learned about linking in order to help further conversation.

I would like us to discuss here what "conversation" could mean from a social media and corporate perspective. The conversation actually started with Jeremiah Owyang's blog post on why some don't need to "join the conversation" because not everyone is part of online dialogue exchange. It continued on Peter Kim's blog on whether or not a brand can blog. I left the following comments on Peter's post.

- The "conversation" doesn't always have to take place between company and customer in order to be effective. When customers use voting, tagging, and sharing, the conversation is between customers - and it truly beneficial.

- We can't force customers to converse with us any more than we could "manage" their relationships (when the buzz was all about CRM). I think one of the key benefits of using social media is helping to make a company seem a bit more approachable, genuine, and real. B2B or B2C, it is all about people.

- Social media should probably be a part of a marketing toolkit, but the tool used is most likely different for different companies. Some may use quite a few of the tools, as their customers want to engage with them that way, and others may use only one (and that just to listen to customers). Either way, it should not be ignored but should be explored.

Now to you

What do you think? Can a "brand" blog? Who should blog from a company? Does the entire company need to embrace social media in order to create successful conversations with customers?
(Photo credit: redbaron)


Symbiotic Marketing said...

Now I don't know if this would be considered a brand, because can a 'TV character' really be considered a brand? For this purpose I'm going to sat yes.

Social Media is transformed a character, Dr. Horrible, into a brand. Joss Whedon, the guy behind television series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, launched this new project "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog." It's a spoof mini-series that is posted on this blog at specific times. In a week it's become a a social media phenomenon. Dr. Horrible is everywhere - Facebook, myspace, itunes. For a pretty low budget production this is generating lots of talk; Joss really had the viral element working in his favor. Chief Marketer is even blogging about this project!

Eric Small said...

Hmm...I'm not going to drop an example, but I do wonder... is it necessarily the "conversation" that makes for a good blog? I've seen tons of blogs (including this one) where the interaction level is low but I wouldn't necessarily call it a failure. In fact, it seems like blogs most often are about establishing some sense of authority, whatever the blog topic -- at least for those that have a topic. Those that succeed in that aspect first then become those that lead to the "conversation".

Your thoughts on this?

Becky Carroll said...

Symbiotic marketing, thanks for the example of Dr Horrible. There are some good and some bad cases of characters blogging (see the Moosetracks example from class, plus see Toby Bloomberg's example of GourmetStation and a character blog gone awry).

Becky Carroll said...

Eric, thank you for your comment. I think the ingredients for a good blog include a few things:

- A good topic, which the writer is passionate about
- Great content, to keep readers coming back
- Two-way conversation; otherwise, a blog is just another website!

Other thoughts, anyone?

Kenny said...

Eric, good comment. Remember though, that "interaction" may not always be so visible or obvious. If someone reads your blog and doesn't post a comment, does that mean there wasn't interaction? What if your audience reads your blog and decides to comment somewhere else or share your post with someone over the phone. That's great interaction. According to Forrester, only 25% of adults online in the US comment on someone's blog (Forrester uses the term “critics”). Now that the world is one where the receiver of messages becomes the sender (and visa-versa), one’s message may be heard and communicated in ways outside of your blog domain. Does this make sense?