Conversation, not content, is king

by Scott Johnson, 15 Mar 2017

“Content isn’t king. Conversation is king. Content is just something to talk about.” – Cory Doctorow If we accept this as true–and I do–the first question a brand in search of a social marketing strategy must ask itself is what are we doing that’s conversation-worthy? What it should not ask first is how can we use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like (though you may want to read how Brands can use Snapchat). Social networking sites are not the conversation, merely the amplifiers. Giving people something to talk about is not simply a marketing program. It’s much bigger. While marketing can be part of it, ultimately, instigating conversations is inextricably linked to corporate behavior, product quality and operational excellence (of course, these should be linked to the brand’s marketing as well, unless it’s a crummy product, in which case irrelevant amusement and dubious legerdemain become the Hail-Mary passes of ad agencies everywhere). It’s about the brand’s living up to its promises in a way that causes people to share stories about their experiences. (And perhaps more importantly, it’s about having the fortitude to make better promises when a cold, hard look determines that the existing ones are unlikely to get people talking–or worse, get them talking about a brand in the wrong way.) Whenever we try to bolt a social media strategy onto “ordinary” corporate behavior, we will fail. Conversely, whenever a brand behaves in a way that is conversation-worthy, conversations will happen. Consumers will figure out how and where to have them. Of course, we can make it easier for them to leverage Twitter, Facebook, etc., but the truth is that they’re already doing that billions of times a day without our help. Social media isn’t new, and it isn’t about technology. Decades ago Bill Bernbach said that “word of mouth is the best medium of all.” It was an old idea then, but that doesn’t make it any less true.