Great Conversations & The Teams That Drive Them

by Joe Szalkiewicz

I’ll be the first to admit it. Early on in our efforts to deliver good social for our clients, we got so caught up in reporting good metrics that we lost sight of the most important part of our job. It was early 2013 so Facebook organic reach was easy to come by; we were happy as long as we were posting significant organic reach for our brands. It was the year of the first Viral Summit in Las Vegas, and everyone thought getting something to “go viral” was the ultimate and maybe the only goal.

What we had lost sight of was recognizing that not all impressions were equal. Even if the impression was to someone of the right gender in the right geography and of the ideal age, if it didn’t resonate as an invitation to a bigger conversation with the brand, then it was no better than a banner ad. If a viral video wasn’t relevant to the story we were trying to help the brand tell, then it was no better than just blasting the brand’s name and logo at our target audience.

To be sure, raw impressions have a degree of value. But social isn’t about impressions; it’s about having a conversation. For a brand to have an authentic conversation with their social media community they first need to recognize the anatomy of a good conversation and then they need to designate a team, either internally or outsourced, to help them sustain that good conversation. So, what’s the anatomy of a good conversation? It has three distinct components: it’s relevant, it’s interesting, and it’s bi-directional.

Relevant

Good social media storytelling always follows the storytelling framework of a hero overcoming an obstacle to reach a goal. We help teach brands day in and day out the following:

  1. You (BRAND) are not the hero of the story telling framework, your community member is!

  2. Your content is relevant to your community to the degree that it helps them feel like a hero, overcome their obstacles, and/or reach their goals.

  3. Unless it ultimately leads back to them overcoming their obstacles to reach their goals, they don’t care about how you overcame your obstacles to reach your goals!

For most brands this is an easy transition, especially when they discover key ways in which their product or service helps their community to overcome a specific obstacle to reach a specific goal. The key is to make sure your content strategy is well thought out so that your content always makes sense to your community and is relevant to the conversation from their perspective. They see you as what we like to call their “Excalibur,” the sword they use to slay the dragon keeping them from their goal. To the degree that your content plays into that, it is relevant to the conversation they are having with you.

Interesting

Imagine if you were trying to convince a friend to try sushi for the first time and you knew the best sushi place on the entire West Coast. Now imagine that your offer to entice your friend to sushi was a request to join you to have cold dead fish. It’s relevant: indeed, sushi is exactly that. You can have the most relevant topic in the world, but if you don’t present it in an interesting way the conversation will die on the vine without ever getting any momentum. Social conversations come alive with great content. If you don’t have dynamic, compelling content then you will never have a good conversation with your community, nor a community with whom to communicate.

Bi-Directional

We reference this frequently, but social media is a dialog, not a monologue. The core of any good conversation is that it is an exchange of ideas and information. And exchange means the act of giving one thing and receiving another. They say the opposite of speaking isn’t listening; it’s waiting to speak. In social media the opposite of posting isn’t scrolling through your newsfeed, it’s waiting to post. Brands should be as focused on what their community is communicating back to them as they are about what they are communicating.

To consistently meet all three requirements, brands need a minimum of three resources: a strategist, a content team and a community manager.

The Strategist keeps the conversation on track by setting the strategy, executing it, and reporting on it. He or she makes sure the topics are relevant for the brand and for the community. The strategist should also have a working knowledge of paid promotion and optimize ad spends (they’d ideally have a specialist to turn to for support and guidance). This person should have an understanding of the type of person the brand wants to be in dialog with, and they should have a natural affinity for the market in which the brand exists.

The Content Team makes sure the conversation is interesting by creating compelling content based on what the Strategist says is relevant for the conversation. Generally the more varied the types of content, the better. If you can afford it, the ideal team would include a videographer, a motion graphics artist, a copywriter, a graphic designer, and a video director with the talent to create live action videos. At a minimum, we recommend having a Content Producer who knows your brand’s tone and voice and can coordinate and instruct any content creators in how to bring that out in the content. A brand also needs to develop a strong content library (this is a separate conversation we’ll address in a later post).

Finally, The Community Manager makes sure the conversation is bidirectional by listening and helping the community to feel listened to. He or she checks the newsfeed daily to answer any questions presented, comments on any posts and protects the community from outsiders who post things that are either distractingly irrelevant or counter to the tone and voice of the brand and community. Finally, the community manager develops the “community rules”. This helps to set expectations for how the conversation is to be conducted. Like any good conversation, communication about boundaries is extremely helpful to have from the beginning.

With the right team in place to sustain it for the long haul, a good social conversation can be a game changer. Our Connection Plan can help you know more about the team you have and the team you need.

Matthew SalisburyComment