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Tips for Conversational Success

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Brandworks University® 2009

In this 4th installment of summaries of LSB’s Brandworks University 2009, we introduce Charlene Li, co-author of Groundswell, formerly of Forrester Research.  Li offers tips and strategies for leveraging and measuring the conversation economy to jumpstart results in your organization.


Profile of the Conversationalists Success Strategies for Tapping into Conversations and Transforming Your Company’s Marketing

Charlene Li, Co-author, Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies

If you think social networking media like Twitter, Facebook or YouTube are all about the technology, you’re asking the wrong kind of question, says Charlene Li who co-authored of the best selling book “Groundswell: Winning in a world transformed by social technologies” while she was at Forrester Research. “I don’t believe in chasing the latest technology. I call it the shiny object syndrome.”

Rather, Li argues that social media have the power to transform not just marketing, but whole companies. “It is going to mean tremendous change in your organization. Social media marketing will challenge existing preconceptions and ways of doing business. So, if you’re going to do it, you had better be focused on something the CEO really cares about.  You need to associate it with the most important corporate goals.”

This is not about you selling products and services. This is about starting a conversation, Li told the 2009 LSB Brandworks University audience. The conversation might be about marketing, but it also might be about customer service, technical support, new product development or other corporate functions that don’t normally fall under marketing.

“In the future everyone is going to be a marketer. Everyone will be in a position to have a dialog with the customer.  Anyone inside or outside the company can be a brand ambassador, representing your brand. The reality is they’re doing it now.”

She recommended three important steps to successfully embracing social media conversations:

First, get the right people on the bus. The customer’s driving the bus. You want to find the revolutionaries in your company who are both realistic and well connected and have them develop your program. Social media will break down silos in your organization. Work is a process. It’s messy. It doesn’t happen in silos. You need collaboration tools that reflect how work really gets done.

Second, measure the right things. Use the same metrics as your existing marketing goals so you can see if social media are helping you reach those goals. You might want to track a net promoter score: how often do people recommend your brand? Or your metrics might focus on increasing net lifetime value of customers. The surest route to failure is engaging in social media without knowing why you’re doing it.

Third, the hardest thing is loss of control over your message, your communication process and your relationship with customers. You may have a sense that you’re in control today, but the reality is that if you don’t start participating in the conversation, you will not be in control.


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