10 to do’s for the Conversation Manager


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The role of a Conversation Manager is changing rapidly. Looking at the latest InSites Consulting Social Media around the World 2012″ report, I saw a number of conclusions that have a big impact on the approach of a Conversation Manager.

1. Improve your skills on the big existing platforms

The results of our study are clear: the big sites are increasing in size and usage frequency, the small sites are getting smaller. If your conversation strategy includes a presence on social networks, I would focus my energy on the growth potential of those big international platforms. Right now, consumers are clearly not waiting for a new big social network they can join. Consumers are happy with the new social media routines in their life.

2. Be flexible enough to detect unique new sites fast and launch a small-scale project there

Even though the big social network sites are growing, there’s still some room left for unique new sites like Instagram and Pinterest. As Conversation Managers, we must keep an open mind towards new opportunities that bring something unique to the table. Setting up a small experiment with such a new platform creates a first-mover learning effect: first movers have an advantage over others who fail to recognise the opportunities these unique new sites have to offer.

3. Consider social advertising to promote your branded stories

Consumers are limiting the number of brands they interact with on social media. This means that the window of opportunity to interact with consumers is becoming smaller. In order to fight for the attention of consumers we obviously need relevant content, but I would definitely consider investing a slice of my budget in promoting relevant content with my follower base.

4. Be aware that not everybody thinks like you

Let’s face it, Conversation Managers are often social media fanatics. This becomes a threat when the conversation strategy is written for other social media fanatics. In reality, most people join a maximum of 2 social networks. Being active on three sites is already a bit suspect. The moment you start actively following your Klout score you can be certain you’re not an average social media user :)

5. Adapt social content to mobile content

Everyone knows mobile is booming. Our research confirms this. When more than one in two people are consuming digital content through a mobile device, we need to be ready. From now on, content should be adapted towards mobile platforms. If not, your content may not be read at all.

6. Proactively build a ‘customer consulting board’

Consumers are clear: they want to collaborate with brands they like. The majority of brands often overlook this opportunity in their social media plans. Select a small group of relevant consumers and involve them in product improvement, development or broader strategic questions. The use of key consumers as consultants should be part and parcel of a conversation strategy.

7. Think more about influence than about influencers

A limited number of people are worried about their online influence. Targeting these online influencers is an often used conversation strategy. I would advise not only to look for influencers but to think about influence as well. In my opinion, everyone has influence; it all depends on the context. Think about ways to help people increase their influence on their immediate environment.

8. Start building the marketing department of the future

The organisational model of marketing departments will change in the long run. Marketing departments will need a higher level of agility than they have today. In order to succeed, my guess is that the number of FTEs in marketing departments may decrease. To become more agile, companies may switch to a small strategic team and a small operational team. To implement the projects, they could use the help of specialist contractors. Start looking for interesting parties to build your future marketing department.

9. Show conversational leadership

Invest in your peers. Look for a number of people who are enthusiastic about the conversational plan you made. Help them implement your ideas. The more people that implement your thoughts, the bigger your impact. Too many Conversation Managers stay on their island and focus on the limitations. Turn it around and look for positive people and show them the way to success.

10. Fans have a higher value as a partner than as a ‘medium’

Consumers do not consider brand fans a reliable source when it comes to recommending your products. Consumers see them as a biased source, which diminishes the level of trust in their advice. This does not mean fans are not important. On the one hand, fans can help to spread a message, but there is more. Fans are the ideal group to look to when you need help. Fans can help with your conversation management or they can help improve existing products. Just look at fans from a broader perspective and view them as more than just a medium.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the future of social media integration in companies. hese 10 to-dos are based on the learning’s from our social media around the world report.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steven Van Belleghem
Steven Van Belleghem is inspirator at B-Conversational. He is an inspirator, a coach and gives strategic advice to help companies better understand the world of conversations, social media and digital marketing. In 2010, he published his first book The Conversation Manager, which became a management literature bestseller and was awarded with the Marketing Literature Prize. In 2012, The Conversation Company was published. Steven is also part time Marketing Professor at the Vlerick Management School. He is a former managing partner of the innovative research agency InSites Consulting.


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