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Is Your Brand Part of THE Conversation?
By: Dana Severson
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Last week, I talked about 4 Completely Avoidable Social Media Mistakes — a follow-up to my Avoiding 4 Big Social Media Mistakes. Yeah, I’ve been on quite a kick lately, but I’m not alone. 

In the February issue of Fast Company, they spoke about the conversation — and the conversation about the conversation — taking place on social media channels, particularly Twitter. 

Twitter has long been a thorn in my side — when it comes to marketing, that is. I believe it’s been oversold, by marketers like myself, as a way to market wares. You can’t just open an account and inundate people with offers for 20% off of this or a BOGO on that, and expect people to listen…or at least continue to listen.

It’s more about engagement, and the conversation it takes to engage. 

Brands need to stop seeing themselves as brands, and start seeing themselves as people. They need to adopt the voice behind the brand. They need to use this voice to talk to consumers. 

I know, it’s kind of bizarre to think of a brand talking to a consumer. Brands are abstract. They don’t have emotions or opinions or beliefs, but they were founded by someone who had emotions, opinions, and beliefs. 

Will this work for all brands?

No. In fact, not all brands need to be part of the conversation. It may not fit with its image. Marketing, as well as social engagement, should always makes sense with the wares a brand peddles. Nigel Morris, CEO of Aegis Media Americas, believes a brand must be culturally relevant to be active on social media. Think about it, do you really want to talk to your dishwasher detergent? Or your floor wax? Or the paint on your walls? Probably not, and you have to wonder what good a conversation would do for any one of these products. 

Regardless of how brands decide to engage, the conversation must add value to the consumer’s life in some way. It’s sort of like a website. You can’t just build it, sit back, and expect people to come. Offer something, and I’m not talking about deals. 

Paul Adams, global head of brand design at Facebook, offers some insight into how to engage — as far as social channels go. The only way a consumer will even consider chatting with a brand is if it helps the consumer express himself, if it helps him maintain a relationship, or if it helps him create a new connection. Helping him help someone else is also beneficial. Other than that, the conversation quickly becomes one-sided, with the brand doing all the talking.



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About the Author
Dana Severson is a freelance copywriter and marketing consultant in the Twin Cities area. Find him at his website for a little downhome advice. 
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