Carefully Crafted on December 02

Brands as Conversation Facilitators

From an AdAge article about Facebook redefining relevance in marketing:

As it turns out, many people in social networks don’t want to talk about your product, they just want to talk. We’ve long known that inserting brands into social-media channels requires a conversational touch, but many are surprised by just how conversational. There’s increasing evidence that the most-effective kinds of marketing communications on these websites are simple, random, even banal statements or questions driven by the calendar or the whim of a writer that may not have anything to do with the brand in question.

Businesses hear advice like “Be conversational.” or “Use Facebook to talk to your customers.” But, what does that actually mean? The AdAge article cited an example from Oreo: The post “Pick a flavor, any flavor! If you could create a new Oreo cream flavor, what would it be?” generated 7,100 likes and 12,500 comments. That seems pretty conversational, right?

Do individuals “like” the Oreo page because they want to talk all things cookies? Maybe. What about companies without the brand equity of Oreo, Blackberry or Nike? Are people really “liking” these Facebook pages because they want to “talk” to the brand?

Probably not. Isn’t it more likely that people want to interact with each other? For example, on the Columbus Marathon’s Facebook page (client), runners share training tips, nutrition advice, mishaps and successes with each other. The Columbus Marathon itself is simply the organization hosting this online space for people with a shared interest.  Think about how people interact offline. They want to connect with people who common interests, challenges, beliefs, hobbies, styles or tastes. Now translate that online.

How much stronger would your Facebook community be if the brand acted as a conversation facilitator, sparking the interactions that enable individuals to meet and converse with like-minded people?

Here’s a challenge: For one week, avoid posting Facebook updates designed to get people talking with the brand. Instead,  post content focused on initiating conversations between fans. I bet that by taking this slightly different approach, you’ll be on your way to building a stronger community, which will help you achieve the other goals you’ve identified for your Facebook presence. What do you think?

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