If Content is King, then Conversation is Queen

(And let’s face it, we all know who really rules the kingdom).

Brands today are not only shaped by the products they offer and the communication they put out in the marketplace, but more importantly, what consumers have to say about the brand.

I recently read this article from eMarketer that says that in the upcoming year, brands should change their approach to “creating magnetic content that will naturally attract consumers, rather than relying solely on the interruption model of advertising.” While, of course, that is extremely important, I felt that it was missing a big piece of the puzzle—conversation. It says that out of all US companies with a social media strategy, what they present is 73% branded content they’ve created, while user content/reviews is only 41%. A disappointing statistic, but what an opportunity!

While Ramsey’s top 5 list includes: “is the content unique, useful, well-executed, fun and make good use of the channel in which it appears,” it could be strengthened by perhaps the most important, “does your content encourage conversation?”

So, I’m putting a challenge out there, not only to brand managers and marketers who seek to innovate, but also to consumers who want better products and experiences.

Consumers:
Have you ever purchased a product that was so amazing, it just blew you away? So much that you wanted to tell everyone you know who might also want the product? Maybe. Have you ever walked into a store or gone onto a website and thought, this experience is so awful, I can’t believe this place exists? It probably shouldn’t.

Tweet your heart out. Share your opinion with your social media network. Write a comment on a like-minded blog or a review site like Yelp. Give a product review on the company’s site. Take action—use that extra second to give feedback to the company (constructive, of course). Not only will you be helping the company innovate, but you’re doing service to the other billions of shoppers like you out there.

Brands:
Is your content a one-way street or do you create an environment that encourages consumers to “want” to talk about you? If you have any fear of what they might have to say, then you probably need to listen! Do you reward those who give you feedback (both positive and negative), even if it’s a simple acknowledgement of their feedback? Do you have a strategy to find out where people are talking about you? Are you using an online community to identify new trends and continuously innovate to fit your customers’ needs? (OK, perhaps I’m biased, but there’s a reason I work at Communispace. Online communities are smart!) Are you using conversations to build relationships with your existing customers and ensure they have positive things to say about you?

So, my overall advice is, be part of the conversation. And feel free to start here with a post under this article …