Conversation Marketing: The Conversation is the Thing

Christine Fife

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During today’s #hastagsocialmedia.com Unconference (#sm48)—with guest moderator Ken Burbary—the topic of Influencers was raised. The topic of today’s discussion was actually Social and the New Model For Market Segmentation, but within the new world of social media, Influencers play an even bigger role in defining and reaching segments.

(Side Note: If you are a communications professional using social media or are responsible for developing a company’s strategic social media plan, I highly recommend this unconference series which occurs each Tuesday at 9:00 am Pacific Time.)

During the discussion, Ken raised several questions, and made several points, about how it’s important to understand who influences your audience and how and why they influence them. To this, I responded: It’s vital for a company to know how an Influencer’s influence manifests itself in the market conversation and engage with them appropriately to ultimately reach the Influencers’ audiences. (Of course this was stated in 140 characters.) Marc Meyer, one of my most favorite people to follow on Twitter, responded saying, “There’s a nice hidden question in there: How does influence manifest itself in market conversations?”

First, as a marketing/communications professional you want to identify the influencers in your market space. That’s another topic for another blog post, but I will say that in your research to identify the influencers you’ll essentially be viewing how their influence manifests itself! To answer Marc’s question, I’ll go ahead and use him as our Influencer—hope you don’t mind, Marc!

With Marc as our Influencer, how does Marc’s influence manifest itself in the greater marketing industry’s market conversation?

  1. Twitter: @marc_meyer
  2. Marc’s Blog: Direct Marketing Observations
  3. Marc’s Consulting Services Company: Digital Response Marketing Group
  4. SocialMediaToday.com: Contributed Articles
  5. Team member: hashtagsocialmedia.com unconference
  6. Marc is ranked on multiple Top-Blog lists including, Best of Alltop, Junta42 Top Blogs, AdAge Power150, PostRank
  7. Marc’s Presentations: SlideShare
  8. LinkedIn Profile: Connections and Group Membership
  9. Marc often speaks at industry events on marketing and social media topics, is a marketing and social media consultant and is often interviewed and quoted on his knowledge of these topics. He is asked to be a guest writer on other blogs and publications and is a member/participant of social media, marketing and technology groups.

These are great to know if you’re a company who considers Marc to be an Influencer to your target audience (maybe you’re a social media monitoring company, for example). You’d want to read his blog and comment with quality information. You might want to hire him as a consultant or ask him to speak at an event. You may wish to invite him to be on a panel with your VP of Social Media. You’d certainly want to have the appropriate person follow him on Twitter and participate in his online unconference discussions.

Marc’s influence does not manifest itself in any published books (as near as I could tell) or marketing industry research reports. Other ways an individual’s influence may manifest itself is by having a highly recognizable position or they are an event host/organizer. A traditional journalist’s influence is manifested through their print column or TV segment, but may also come out through their blog.

It’s important to identify individuals who are influential in your market space and then drill down into how their influence manifests itself and how you can engage with them through those avenues to build a relationship and thus get in front of their audiences.

Thanks, Marc, for raising the question and being my test subject!

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As I drove off to college I never would have guessed I would end up here! But it’s been a fantastic journey. My career has been richly diverse giving me an advantage over marketers who are siloed into niche positions. I strive to be a true Renaissance person—I love to learn about everything and trying new things comes naturally. My career has been no different; I’ve successfully launched enterprise software and medical device development startups, improved communications processes for the regulatory department of a major financial exchange, increased client business and product development for several international exchange program companies and founded an international educational non-profit organization. My master’s degree in Integrated Marketing from Golden Gate University gave me a broad understanding of traditional marketing best-practices, but my BA in theater gave me the skills to understand how people communicate with one another and the importance of promoting a brand in a voice that is right for the audience.