Archive for the ‘Conversation’ tag
Before I started Conversation Agent in 2006, I was writing regularly on the community section of FastCompany.com and engaging in threads with global participants in a network (started in 1997) that at its peak reached 42,000 members (2000).
Remember, this was pre-LinkedIn (2003), pre-Facebook (2004) and pre-Twitter (2006).
We wrote posts to engage in discussions with other people on the network, and to connect on topics of interest. The online activities were extended offline through regional and local events — in Philadelphia we reached about 500 members and organized around 100 (free) events.
Many of the posts we made went across groups and literally traveled the world to then come together again at a Community @ Work Summit in Denver in August 2000.
I was reading a brief “lessons learned” report of an interview with Om Malik by Siobhan McKeown and thought about my answer to the question: how we can resist the chit-chat, how we can be part of a conversation.
To Malik’s advice of listening more I would add using our blogs as tools for listening and signal by going back to highlighting important questions, providing attribution (alas, that has gone by the wayside the most over the years), and seeking to connect more broadly.
It’s been at least ten years, and we have made little progress on the advice of just those few. Time to give a shot to a more diverse roster of perspectives and experiences? Just checking.
Whenever I poll readers on what they find most useful about what I cover, the answers invariably includes generosity in linking to the content of others, which allows them to discover new sources of thinking and to follow the conversation across different points of view.
Sidebar on signal
Signal is about being present to the topic. For example, I check in with the titles of posts here each week by re-reading them all at once.
For this past week:
- Digital products as evolution of content
- On graft, focus, determination, and attitude
- How to make a business connection
- Why connections do happen in real life
- Voice of the customer: who is in charge?
- Content as product worth paying for
- How environment shapes our decisions
They all revolve around customer focus and its evolution through digital, which I am using as a short hand for the technologies and tools we use to access information and stay connected.
Do we feel connected, I wonder?
To me, we’re getting back to the spirit of blogging — for listening and signal.
Valeria is an experienced listener. She is also frequent speaker at
conferences and companies on a variety of topics. To book her for a
speaking engagement click here.
For me, PR Conversations has provided a global platform for debating and considering a wide range of classic and contemporary developments in public relations. I have had the opportunity to present some new thoughts and argue my viewpoint in relation to some traditional concepts. The wide range of posts also offers a chance to engage with others whose positions may oppose, or at least run at an angle to my own thinking. Sometimes this conversation has been enlightening and at other times, it has been frustrating. But that’s the delight of providing a platform for the expression of varying viewpoints.
I often come back to PR Conversation posts in my teaching, other writing (citing blog posts from the site in book chapters I have written) and discussion with practitioners and academics. PR Conversations has expanded my own profile and undoubtedly led to opportunities – such as online teaching with US universities – that I would not have had otherwise.
Before getting involved with PR Conversations, I wrote exclusively on my own Greenbanana blog – and similarly, this site existed before my involvement. It was started originally by Toni Muzi Falconi, with Judy Gombita, Markus Pirchner and myself, taking on responsibility for its development with the Redux version launched in June 2010.
Some of the 500 preceding posts pre-date this ‘change of ownership’ and were those we felt were worthy of an ongoing online presence. They can be found under our Seasoned Posts category.
There are a number of these Seasoned stories that continue to get a lot of attention – not least the posts discussing the King reports on governance from South Africa, and the collection of posts on What is PR? collated by Catherine Arrow in May 2008.
Our most popular post ever – which is still a big draw – is not typical of PR Conversations. Written as a team post, Using Twitter for PR Events provides thoughts and advice that continue to get hits, and other social media referrals.
This post raises an interesting aspect of PR Conversations that has developed over the past couple of years. Despite getting thousands of hits every month, this attractive Twitter post has only 12 comments, about half the average number for a post, and only a tenth of the debate on our most heated offerings. In contrast, those that generate a lot of conversation, don’t always light up social media channels.
Another strength of PR Conversations, I believe is the community of contributors and commentators – our conversationalists. Judy in particular is great at spotting and nurturing new people to participate here (as well as promoting the site through Twitter and Google+). We set out to encourage a variety of voices and I believe we succeed in that aim.
We also tackle a good range of topics – revisiting some (such as definitions and the role of women), whilst introducing new ones (including Toni’s posts relating to Muslim PR practice and my own reflections on protest PR). I like to think we’ve often been ahead of conversations elsewhere or at least, that we’ve extended conversations in ways that other blogs don’t.
So thank you to everyone who has read PR Conversations, double thanks if you’ve ever left a comment or Tweeted about us, and triple thanks if you’ve contributed a post.
Whether you are one of these people – or if you are a lurker or newcomer to the site, it would be great to hear your views about PR Conversations. In particular, please let us know if we’ve influenced your thinking or practice – or if you’ve suggestions for future posts and people who’d you’d like us to invite to join in our PR Conversations.
Everywhere I look, I see B2B marketing that spouts "join the conversation," "get in the conversation," and other references to the word that skew it's meaning into the equivalent of "talk to the hand."
In my last post, I wrote about debunking the B2B buzzword, engagement. In the same vein, I'm wondering what the heck happened to the art of conversation? Have we become so numb by the ability to publish whatever we want that we've forgotten how to be human?
The words dialogue and conversation are also interchanged without thought but, in online marketing, they have different criterion:
Conversation: an interchange of thought, information actively shared between/among people. (Requires 2 or more people)
Dialogue: an exchange of information (Only requires one person)
The difference here is that a conversation is an active exchange of information between people where a dialogue (as an exchange of information) could be between a person and a website, blog, video, etc. without the need for two active (human) participants.
I think this is an important distinction. I do not think the two are interchangeable.
Let's look at some examples of what a conversation is NOT:
- A push email – even if the recipient clicks
- A Tweet with no commentary (title and link and handle)
- A blog post with comments from readers, but no response from the author (This does, however, change if readers are commenting in response to each other.)
- A white paper download
- Viewing a video
Examples of what transforms dialogue into conversation is response.
- I receive an email, click the link, and forward the email on to a colleague who responds back to me with comment about the content I shared. We may exchange several more emails in discussion about the content.
- I receive a comment on my blog, respond back and ask a follow-on question and the person comes back to answer the question. Or another reader jumps in and answers the question I asked and I respond to them.
- Someone posts a question to a LinkedIn group and provides a link to a blog post or article on the topic. Group members respond by leaving comments and referencing perspectives of others – discussion ensues.
If I had just clicked the link and read the information in the first example, there is no conversation. It's the act of involving others and adding my commentary that turns the dialogue into a conversation. There must be back and forth between people for a conversation to form.
The evolution is that we don't need oral communication to have a conversation. As long as two people are involved, a conversation can be facilitated by a variety of technology platforms, from email to communities to social media and beyond.
But, it's only dialogue if technology is carrying on half of the conversation.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a huge proponent of marketing automation. Use your technology to establish a dialogue that engages people through contextual information they want and need, GO YOU! But it's not a conversation until another person gets involved. This is because the "dialogue" is dependent on the behavior of the single participant, not both.
[If I visit this webpage, the system sends me a link to content A. If I visit a landing page and download a white paper, the system sends me content B. Etc. In a dialoge scenario, there's not a possiblity that it could veer off to content X.]
This is even more important when you consider social media. I see so many exchanges where someone is looking for help, only to be told to call an 800 number. Really? That's the best you can do? Although that fits the criterion for a conversation (2 or more people), there's also a difference between a valuable conversation and a crappy excuse for one.
So, when you think about "conversation" in marketing terms – what are you doing to make it more human?
And for those of you thinking "Wait. I get thousands of responses to my nurturing program! I can't possibly deal with this…" I would point you to buying stages and personas and battening down your lead scoring schema to get to intelligence that's useful. It's all in your approach to prioritization.
Don't let conversation become a meaningless buzzword. With a little art and science we can make marketing human, approachable, and definitely more social.
Small talk is awkward and often boring, but networking is an essential skill. Fast Company suggests a few conversation starters and strategies for making new connections. More »
When Upstream Group ran a recent survey of high-value employees, it received some surprising results. For example, the motivating factors were different from what one might assume. “It’s not all about money,” said Upstream Group founder and CEO Doug Weaver. “Only one in five candidates surveyed left because of a better offer.” Instead, Weaver says, employees were motivated by two dominant factors, both which boiled down to leadership issues.
We asked Weaver for advice for marketers and for companies looking to hold on to their high-value employees. He had some very practical recommendations.
4 leadership lessons for digital marketers
0:00 – “Only one in five candidates leave because of a better offer.”
1:10 - Two reasons people leave companies
2:55 – “Be a little paranoid about the people you don’t want to lose.”
4:00 – How to get what you want/need from your company. (It starts during the interview process.)
5:34 – The days of job hopping are over.
6:10 – If you don’t have a quality relationship with your manager, nothing is going to get better.
7:45 – We should focus our shift to creating budgets.
8:40 – We need more right-brain thinkers who can synthesize information.
Run time is 9:03.
Doug Weaver is the founder and CEO of Upstream Group and a pioneer in the field of online advertising. Over the past five years he’s worked with more than 60 leading companies, including Yahoo, AOL Time Warner, USA TODAY, CBS MarketWatch, ESPN Internet Group, The Microsoft Network, CBS Sportsline, Terra Lycos, and DoubleClick. Through his work with these companies, and through the IAB Professional Development Series and iMedia Summit Program, Doug has trained well over 4,000 internet salespeople and has consulted on a host of strategic sales and navigation issues.
The world of blogging is a world of opportunity. Where else could you start a business for virtually a few dollars, and build it into a million dollar company? Sure, it’s unlikely to grow a site from nothing to a million dollars in a short period of time, but it’s definitely possible.
The secret to creating a quality content rich blog that makes everyone want to keep coming back for more, lies within your content. You need to provide value and engage with your audience. This is something that we are seeing less and less of as guest blog posting continues to grow rampant across the blogosphere.
At the end of the day, there are two different reasons why people are guest blogging.
- Other bloggers want to provide valuable content for other blogs, while also gaining exposure for their sites and name in the process.
- Guest bloggers want to make money by providing content articles to other blogs, which have a back link at the end of the article that they are getting paid for.
Is there anything wrong with either of these reasons for guest blogging, no. However, when you start to sacrifice the value of the content you are providing to other blogs just for a quick buck and to gain a back link for your advertiser or client, then it no longer is an ethical and valuable proposition for the sites you are trying to guest post for.
So what can blog owners do?
For any decent sized blog owners, I’m sure you’ve already had the request for guest blog posts coming through to your email. What you need to do is make sure that you are taking the time to read through all of these requests and make sure they are not duplicate content from another site, and that they are also written properly and not loaded up with back links.
One of the easiest way to tell if someone is sending you guest post that is purely for the link back and will end up making them money, is to simply look at the footer of the article and see what their name is and the link they are promoting.
Let’s break down a few clear flaws to look for.
- Does the name in the email match the name at the end of the article?
- Is the link at the end of the email focused on search terms they are trying to target?
(ie: “low cost hosting”, “free credit report” etc.)
- Again, is the link at the end of the article not focused on blogging or writing at all?
(ie: debt consolidation, web hosting, etc.)
So what’s the take away here… for bloggers it should be to take the time to make sure all of the content you are accepting is of high quality and provides a purpose and value to your site. For guest bloggers, step up your game and make sure you are providing a value to the web sites and blogs you are submitting content too. There is no need to be so greedy and get sloppy in this process. Both sides can make money and benefit from new and original quality content, make sure you are going the high road and you will have a much more successful and longer revenue path ahead of you.
I’m also available for blog startup, content writing and consultation services.
Visit my other blog, Highly Favored for Christian inspiration and church newsletter tips.
Become a Better Blogger
One of the more interesting features of OS X Mountain Lion is the ability to synchronize messages between iMessage on your iPhone and Messages on your Mac. This means you can start a conversation on your Mac and continue it on your iPhone. More »
For many organizations, integrating the customer experience with social media remains a challenge. Companies do social and still forget to organize to be social.
Is marketing that makes business sense.
Has marketing in control failed to attempt, or has it attempted and failed? Are we doing marketing that makes business sense?
Word of mouth works best when you provide a great experience. Period.
How do you do that? We all want to be heard and understood.
When you’re a product company that sells in a highly competitive market like the beauty industry, you focus on impeccable service.
Why go to a Sephora store if you don’t intend to buy a Sephora product?
Because they are nice in addition to being professional and knowledgeable. Sephora is the Apple store of the beauty industry.
Your customers have their own antenna, complete with BS detector without needing a two-year plan for it.
This chart is a couple of years old. I used it in a post about trust and corporate blogs. If you know of a more recent chart point me to it.
After almost six years of publishing regularly on this blog and other sites, I still see the benefit of blogging.
The discipline and drill help organizations build continuity and consistency in their interactions.
Valeria is an experienced listener. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. To book her for a speaking engagement click here.
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Once upon a time, we were told that markets are “conversations”. But that’s all changed. At least if you listen to Jeremiah Owyang, a much respected “Internet Analyst” at the Altimeter Group. As Owyang explained to me when he came into our San Francisco studio, today’s Internet is now in what he calls its third “optimization” phase in which the online conversation has been replaced by hyper-targeted ads from companies like Google and Facebook. Indeed, Owyang told me, the big online battle today is between Facebook and Google over how our data will be controlled and leveraged.
Unlike other analysts, Owyang is actually much more bullish about Google and Facebook. He sees Google goggles, for example, as a major screen type in the future and, in spite of the relative failure of Google + and SPYW, believes that search is intrinsically social. Indeed, he predicts that Facebook will soon look like Myspace in the way it will be plastered with annoyingly garish advertising. Owyang is also bullish about Adobe and Salesforce who, he sees, as having made impressive acquisitions in the social space. But the M&A market in social is closing rapidly, Owyang warns. It’s 1:40am on the dance floor when it comes to promising social companies being acquired, he says.
Huddle Takes On Microsoft/Yammer, Puts Social Features Into Its Collaboration Platform (Like Google Docs But With Conversation)
Huddle, the cloud collaboration company that picked up $25 million in funding in May, today is launching a significant update to its platform: it’s adding in a social communication layer to its service, so that when people share and work together on documents online, they can also talk to each other about them.
The move puts Huddle into closer competition against companies like Microsoft, whose $1.4 billion purchase of Yammer closed today and is now likely to create more social collaborations of this kind in its own products. (The picture here, in fact, is from Huddle’s in London, where it parked this sign in front of Yammer/Microsoft’s HQ to drive the competition point home.)
The launch is also very much in keeping with the trend of companies like Acunote and Asana making it easier for disparate colleagues — or even those in the same office who don’t talk in person much — to be able to keep up on what others are doing; plus the second trend of putting significantly more live content into the cloud.
With this new version of the platform, Huddle is working right in the center of where a lot of other enterprise-focused companies want to go. Microsoft’s purchase of Yammer, you can imagine, will likely (hopefully) be integrated into a bigger collaboration suite for businesses; and similarly you can see Google edging in a converged direction with its cloud services, too. However, while these heavy hitters continue to lag on implementing services like this, smaller Huddle has stolen a march.
“The new Huddle is the first enterprise tool that brings together content, conversation and enterprise-level security, giving workers a full 360-degree view of information that is important to them,” says Alastair Mitchell, CEO, Huddle, in a statement.
He notes that customers have seen the time taken to find and share information reduce by half. “Discussions are focused on specific content, knowledge is transmitted to the people that need it and the enterprise data store is enriched and available for everyone in the enterprise ecosystem. Legacy ICT systems no longer support the new ways of working and Huddle is leading a transformation in the ECM space, ensuring people have access to higher quality content, productivity is increased and costs are reduced.”
Huddle’s new version is significantly pared down in terms of how it looks, with the simplified interface pointing users to view and interact with files, as well as see related discussions and metadata in one central place — the idea is to keep people from jogging from one screen to another, or one application to another — both of which can become time-consuming distractions.
The company has also worked in some features that are a hat-tip to services like Yammer and Twitter, with the ability to @ mention someone to alert them to a message. Also included are version histories and audit trails to look at individual revisions on documents.
Huddle says the new version of the platform is already available for all customers, which include 80 percent of the Fortune 500 and 80 percent of central UK government departments. The company’s projecting an eightfold increase in revenues this year.