Conversation Marketing: The Conversation is the Thing

Christine Fife

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Integrate Social Media Tools Into Business, Not Marketing Campaigns

A given–social media activities alone will not sustain a company

In a blog post by Shiv Singh, author of the Going Social Now blog, Shiv argues that “Social media is not enough in a downturn.

In the post, Shiv says:

“That its not enough to focus on social alone. That nurturing the conversations in the social realm are the starting point not the end game. That it is indeed about getting customers to influence each other to make positive purchasing and brand affinity decisions. That the core philosophies around social can and should be deeply integrated into a business. And that, the more holistically you look at social influence marketing - across all touch points digital and physical, the more likely are you to harness it for competitive advantage. It is the social ideas that matter more than social media. Ideas that harness social philosophies but create new outcomes and not just new tactics.”

Interesting, but…

  1. A given–social media activities alone will not sustain a company.
  2. “Nurturing the conversations in the social realm are the starting point?” I beg to differ. Market conversations take place everywhere at all different times. If by the “social realm” he means any location, on or offline, where people talk, then sure, but if it means the online world of social media only, nope. Social media is experiencing wide-spread adoption, but the whole world isn’t on there yet. Heck, the whole world isn’t even online and many of the most important market conversations still take place offline.
  3. Agree–core philosophies around social media activities should be deeply integrated into a business. This isn’t new, though, as marketing practices have been working on becoming “integrated” with business goals/operations/functions for a long time now.
  4. Not sure I’m understanding what was actually meant by the last two sentences, but perhaps I agree with it if it means that the market conversation really drives product innovation and business growth because the greater market conversation is talking about how to fulfill people’s wants and needs and not about what products need to have what features next or need to be created.

In December of 2007, Shiv wrote a post in which he defined Social Influence Marketing: “Social Influence Marketing is about leveraging social media at every stage of a marketing campaign, and it goes beyond the lifetime of the campaign too.”

So taking this definition and looking at the excerpt from his recent post it seems to me that it would be more holistic to think of utilizing social media tools and online conversation locations to engage with influencers, customers and prospects as a part of what your company offers rather than simply as an extension of a traditional marketing campaign. This would be a more inline with what we call Conversation Marketing:

The strategic and tactical ways in which a company chooses to participate/engage/interact in the market conversation. As opposed to the typical definition of Social Media Marketing, Conversation Marketing focuses on building mutually beneficial relationships with Influencers; responding to market conversation topics and initiating topics that do not include traditional marketing messages; extrapolating market conversation content to utilize as company/product proof points and to counter sales objections; and internalizing the market conversation for business growth.

What do you think?

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More Stories By Christine Fife

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.