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The 10 most frequently asked questions
     about social media & Conversation Management



     Since the publication of my book ‘De Conversation
     Manager’ (2010), I’ve worked with quite a few companies
     to inspire and advise them in this new marketing field.




                                                                   ?
     The same questions keep coming back across all regions
     and sectors of activity. Social media, community and
     conversation managers will definitely recognise them,
     because they are the same type of questions they hear
     from colleagues every day.


     In view of these recurring questions, I thought it would
     be a good idea to make a list of the 10 most frequently
     asked questions and their answers.


     The contents are open to debate and new arguments can
     certainly be added to this summary. Please feel free to add
     your own contribution.




                              twitter.com/stevenVBe
b-conversational.com |
                                                                       B Conversational
The 10 most frequently asked questions
     about social media & Conversation Management


     1. Aren’t social media exclusively for B2C and not for B2B?

     2. What is the profile of a Conversation Manager?

     3. What if the boardroom doesn’t buy into social media?

     4. What is the role of the product in social media?

     5. Is operational conversation management something we do ourselves or should we call upon an outside company?

     6. Are Facebook likes and Twitter followers important?

     7. How do I get a lot of followers and likes?

     8. How do I react to really negative people?

     9. If I become active on social media, do I run the risk of stimulating negativity?

     10. What use do I have for conversation management if my customers aren’t on Facebook or Twitter?




                         twitter.com/stevenVBe
b-conversational.com |
                                                                                                         B Conversational
Question 1
     Aren’t social media exclusively for B2C and not for B2B?

     The basic philosophy of conversational thinking is pretty simple and as old as         For a B2B company, this is simply the next step in their existing approach;
     the hills: the best kind of publicity is an existing client convincing someone         for a B2C company, including the consumer in the decision-making process
     else to work with your company. For years, manufacturers were able to exert            often takes some getting used to.
     a strong influence on public perception through intelligent and creative
     publicity. In those pre-social media days, publicity produced an endless            •	 Customer feedback has always been a first-hand experience. In a B2B
     stream of information about everyone and everything, thereby diminishing               organisation, direct customer feedback comes with the territory. Since sales
     the impact of word of mouth. B2B marketers got to benefit much less from               and service people work hand in hand with customers, they get feedback
     this luxury and, as a result, conversations have always been important in a B2B        on the company’s operational processes and service straight from the
     context. Besides, I’m convinced that B2B marketers hold several advantages             horse’s mouth. In a B2C context, though, feedback usually comes from a
     over B2C marketers:                                                                    market survey. A slightly lower percentage of reactions is negative, but they
                                                                                            are less personal and less direct than in a B2B context.
     •	 Knowing clients: a good B2B marketer knows who the company’s clients
        are (certainly the top clients). For instance, it is much harder for Coca Cola   •	 Smaller volume of conversation. A final advantage is the fact that B2B
        to find the consumer who drinks the most Coke in Holland than it is for a           companies average a smaller number of conversations. In terms of online
        company selling iron ore.                                                           conversations, an industrial company will average a lower volume than a food
                                                                                            manufacturer. On the one hand this makes it harder to get the conversation
     •	 Co-creation is ingrained in the mentality: a lot of B2B companies                   started, but on the other hand it’s easier to manage and follow up.
        habitually involve clients in R&D projects. What’s more, a new product or
        technology is usually developed for specific client processes. Today, social
        media make it possible to convert co-creation into structural collaboration.




                             twitter.com/stevenVBe
b-conversational.com |
                                                                                                                                          B Conversational
Question 2
     What is the profile of a Conversation Manager?
     Since the publication of the original version of my book ‘The Conversation              •	 Choice No. 2: The conversation manager as a facilitator of strategic change
     Manager’ (2010), many companies have gone looking for someone to put in                    Let’s consider why so many companies are looking for a conversation
     charge of their social media strategy. In quite a few cases, the job description           manager. The answer is simple: we are living in a time of change. There
     was ‘conversation manager’ – thank you very much for that, by the way.                     isn’t a company out there that doesn’t realise we need a new form of
     When we analyse the many vacancies for conversation managers, it’s apparent                interaction with the consumer. They want to engage the consumer in
     that two profiles are in demand. There’s the strategic approach on the one                 conversation so they go in search of someone to manage that conversation.
     hand and the operational approach on the other. Both jobs are valuable and                 Logical, isn’t it? What companies are really looking for is someone to aid
     both are essential to effective conversation management. I found the inspira-              them in that transition. In order to facilitate that change, a strategically
     tion to describe both routes in the various papers of Jeremiah Owyang.                     competent conversation manager is the best choice. In this role, the
                                                                                                conversation manager is proactively involved in determining the strategy.
     •	 Choice No. 1: The conversation manager as a reactive helpdesk                           The conversation manager heads the most important projects but also
        A large portion of the job descriptions for conversation managers remind me             involves the other departments in his plans. He makes sure that the learning
        of the profile of a modern webmaster. These guys start up the conversation              effect ripples throughout the organisation. In his ideas, he takes a proactive
        for the brand by sending Facebook and Twitter updates. Every day they go                approach to other departments. The conversation manager determines
        looking for a small amount of content to put online. They represent major               the content agenda of his organisation on a strategic level. He thinks a
        brands and help companies find their way in conversation management.                    year ahead and goes in search of the most relevant content in order to
        Every one of these tasks is of crucial importance but they are very operational in      maximise the effect of the conversations about his company. He designs a
        nature. They execute the assignments they receive from various departments.             conversion strategy: how can all these conversations lead to conversion and
        When someone is conducting a campaign, the conversation manager is                      consequently impact our turnover?
        there to help him promote it. When there’s a crisis, the conversation manager
        monitors the situation on behalf of those involved. Again, each one of these
        tasks is important but they still only cater to the operational aspect of the job.




                              twitter.com/stevenVBe
b-conversational.com |
                                                                                                                                                B Conversational
General
                                                          HR           The choice is yours
                                  MGM

                                                                       We’ve explained there are two different ways of
                                                                       looking at conversation management. Both roles
                    R&D                                        Sales   are important: one is an operational, executive
                                                                       role whereas the other has a strategic focus.
                                                                       When writing the job description, it’s a good
                                           Conversation
                                                                       idea to think about the place of the new role in
                                             Manager
                                                                       the overall structure of the organisation.
                    Cust
                                                               Mkt
                    Care                                               Most companies simply look for the operational
                                                                       people. However, operational people need ‘the
                                                                       (wo)man with the plan’. Combining both profiles
                                                                       is what generates true change.
                                   Legal                  IT




                           twitter.com/stevenVBe
b-conversational.com |
                                                                                                    B Conversational
Question 3
     What if the boardroom doesn’t buy into social media?

     The answer is simple: If you want to convince management of the use of social
     media, then don’t talk about social media. Instead you should talk about
     things that managers find important. One of the challenges for top managers
     is improving customer satisfaction at a lower cost. Another challenge consists
     in consolidating sales results in a world where customer contact is becoming a
     rare commodity. Base your arguments on the challenges they face. Explain the
                                                                                            Social
     long-term advantages of your plan. Contribute to one of the company’s main             M edia
                                                                                            Plan
     goals through your social media plan.


     Also, it’s always a good idea to submit a concrete step-by-step plan. Such a
     plan brings clarity and sets people at ease. The plan consists of a number of
     pilots. Pilots with a long-term plan have the biggest impact. A successful pilot
     survives the initial test phase. The ideal pilot is a pilot with the ability to keep
     evolving with time.


     Try to include a broad spectrum of factors in the plan. It shouldn’t merely
     outline the external communication strategy but also the role that staff will
     play. Take the structural changes into account and be transparent about the
     investments required for the plan to be successful.




                              twitter.com/stevenVBe
b-conversational.com |
                                                                                              B Conversational
Question 4
     What is the role of the product in social media?

     It goes without saying that the quality of the product is essential. Analysis of consumer
     conversations clearly shows that customer experience is the topic of conversation in                                       Develop
                                                                                                    Help customers
     more than 50% of cases. This experience is always a combination of product quality                                      conversation           Grow an active
                                                                                                      with issues,
                                                                                                                            starters around         group of brand
     and the quality of the service. When these two elements are satisfactory, you’re off to a      thank them for
                                                                                                                                  your                advocates
     flying start on social media: thanks to the quality of the product, consumers will already      compliments
                                                                                                                            product/brand
     be exchanging their product experiences of their own accord. The product has already
     created a positive buzz, regardless of what you yourself are doing.
                                                                                                             if product/service quality is OK

     If your product is lacking in quality then you will be confronted with that fact in a hurry.
     Faster than ever before, careful observation tells a company what’s wrong with its
     products. We can help consumers by taking part in the conversation, but even more                Product
                                                                                                      & service
     than that, it’s crucial to bring the observations into the R&D department and make
     actual improvements to the product.

                                                                                                             if product/service quality is not OK
     In other words, product quality has a major impact on conversation management.
     If your product and the accompanying service are up to par then you can start
     brainstorming about creative content campaigns because consumers are prepared to                                                                Improve/new
                                                                                                    Listen and be
     talk about your company. If either your product or the service are below average, then                                                            product
                                                                                                    empathic for             Use consumer
     you will need to focus on observation and on neutralising conversation management.                negative                feedback
                                                                                                                                                    Thank consumer
     Of course, this also creates an opportunity. Using consumer feedback to improve your             feedback
                                                                                                                                                     for feedback
     product makes a company look good to its consumers.




                                twitter.com/stevenVBe
b-conversational.com |
                                                                                                                                                B Conversational
Question 5
     Is operational conversation management something we do ourselves
     or should we call upon an outside company?

     In a perfect world it’s better to implement conversation management ourselves.
     Managing the direct relationship with the customer yourself is undoubtedly an asset.


     In some cases, though, it’s better to use a partner:


     •	 If round-the-clock availability is required but the terms of employment don’t allow it.
     •	 If the company lacks the in-house knowledge to take part in the conversation.
     •	 To provide assistance at peak moments. For instance, if a company can handle the daily flow of conversations but needs
        outside help for a product launch, they may call upon an outside partner to help them deal with the peak in activity.
     •	 In case of a pressing need for specific competencies that are not available within the company.


     In the future, marketing organisations will try to become more flexible. As a result, the number of in-house staff may drop
     as companies are quicker to call upon a specialised outside firm. The service providers’ expertise on the subject of online
     participation may become so high that working with an outside partner becomes an asset.


     The conclusion is that apart from the ideal case scenario, there’s also the everyday reality to take into account.




                              twitter.com/stevenVBe
b-conversational.com |
                                                                                                                                   B Conversational
Question 6
     Are Facebook likes and Twitter followers important?
     Many social media experts would say ‘no’ but I beg to differ. However, two        Still, keep in mind that your efforts should be based on a clear strategy.
     conditions must be fulfilled: first of all, the fans and followers must be gen-   You can devise a strategy using the four steps outlined below:
     uine fans instead of ‘purchased fans’. And secondly, you have to get those
     followers involved. An entirely passive audience has little worth.                1.	 Draw up a content conversion plan
                                                                                          Think carefully about which content areas you would like to tackle. Also,
     If these two conditions are fulfilled, building a wide reach is a great asset.       it’s a good idea to select a digital location that offers the best odds of
     This is true for several reasons:                                                    conversion, of reaching your goals. Next you try to bring as many people
                                                                                          to that location as possible.
     •	 The main reason: while the investments in campaigns and content remain
        the same, their impact increases. In turn, this generates a bigger impact on   2.	 Build reach
        investment.                                                                       Once the strategy is in place, you have to build reach. See also the next
                                                                                          question for more pointers on the subject.
     •	 Managers like figures and success indicators. As a conversation manager,
        you will have to report to your superiors from time to time. A growing         3.	 Generate commitment through content
        online reach may help you secure additional means.                                The content should be worthy of conversation. It should invite interaction
                                                                                          and make people feel involved with the brand.
     •	 The perception of the outside world is still determined by volume and
        reach.                                                                         4.	 From likes to ambassadors
                                                                                          The final step consists in activating people. When your fans start talking
                                                                                          about your brand to other people, that’s when the likes have been
                                                                                          converted into ambassadors.




                             twitter.com/stevenVBe
b-conversational.com |
                                                                                                                                         B Conversational
These four phases are obviously not entirely sequential; there is an overlap between phases 2, 3 and 4. In our strategy, it’s not that hard to define the necessary
     actions for the various steps. In real life, though, we need to be flexible enough to adapt to consumer needs in a moment’s notice. Once a certain stage is
     reached, phases 2, 3 and 4 become iterative steps in an eternal loop designed to build reach and create more ambassadors.




                                                                                                                                        Conversion

                                                                                              Convince with
                                                                                           content & interaction
                                                          Build reach
                                                      through campaigns

                     Content
                  Touchpoint plan


                                                                                  TIME




                            twitter.com/stevenVBe
b-conversational.com |
                                                                                                                                          B Conversational
Question 7
     How do I get a lot of followers and likes?
     Three conditions must be fulfilled to build reach:                                  •	 Campaigns worthy of conversation: invest in strong online campaigns to
                                                                                            boost the reach of the online channels.
     1.	 Strong content: the most important way of building reach is sharing             •	 Competitions & free giveaways: giving away free products is an effective
        relevant, creative and enjoyable content with your network. Not only should         method of building reach in the very short term. The drawback of this
        the actual content be good, but more than anything else it should also be           approach is there are no guarantees of attracting the right people. Many
        visually convincing. Our communications are slipping back toward the age            companies get a lot of ‘fans’ this way but their quality is often questionable.
        of hieroglyphics: text is slowly but surely disappearing from the online world      When using this strategy, the trick is to convince people through high-
        and photos and videos are taking over.                                              quality content.
     2.	 Discipline: doing something fun once a year just isn’t enough. You have         •	 Social advertising: good content deserves to be seen. Promote your
        to settle on a rhythm for making and sharing strong content. Keep to that           content with social media ads.
        rhythm even if not much is happening in the short run. Discipline coupled        •	 Activating staff: a company should always have more fans than staff. If
        with patience is a second condition.                                                your own staff are not interested in the content then you can’t expect the
     3.	 Be human: don’t fall into the trap of one-way communication on social              customer to take an interest. Train and coach your staff so they become
        media. Keep it human. Play an active role in the conversation, react to other       active ambassadors of your social media activities.
        people’s input, joke around… Make the personality of your brand tangible.        •	 Offline communication: building reach goes way beyond the online
                                                                                            channels themselves. Mentioning the online channels in every form of
     Then there are also a number of more commercially oriented possibilities to            communication will help build your reach on a structural level. Mention the
     build reach. The challenge is to balance the scales. Don’t just go for the fast        online channels in all communications: TV commercials, banners, posters,
     build-up of fans but always concentrate on finding good fans. I have outlined          printed ads, publicity at the mall …
     a few ideas that work but you should take care to use them in a way that fits       •	 Work with partners that have a wide reach: If you have a good
     the brand while still attracting good fans:                                            relationship with strong brands that already have a wide online reach then
                                                                                            you should look into the possibility of them sharing your content as well.




                             twitter.com/stevenVBe
b-conversational.com |
                                                                                                                                           B Conversational
Question 8
     How do I react to really negative people?

     There are two kinds of negative people. The first kind had a bad experience with your company and the second kind is negative by nature.
     The first are relatively easy to convert. The second are the so-called grouchy smurfs that are impossible to please. Both groups require a different approach.



     Negative reactions after an incident: open a dialogue                               Haters: ignore their hate but understand its source


     This group often spreads negative content about your company. They feel             This group has lost all trust in your company. They are convinced your com-
     you should do better (as opposed to positive criticism from those who think         pany simply can’t do any better. Everything you say and do comes across the
     you COULD do better). Open a dialogue and listen to their feedback. Maybe           wrong way. The thought of having anything to do with your company makes
     you can make some actual improvements that will change their opinion of             them shudder. You won’t change their minds, not even through dialogue, so
     your company. Make sure their negative comments are processed in a posi-            there’s little sense in reacting to their negative comments. Anything you say
     tive, empathic manner. Even if their opinion doesn’t change, at least you’ve        will only fuel their anger and it’s a discussion you can’t win. Don’t pay any
     neutralised the negative conversation.                                              attention to them. Do not delete their negative comments but simply ignore
                                                                                         their remarks. By reacting, you are giving the impression they’re succeeding
                                                                                         in their mission. The only interesting thing is to determine (listen) the cause
                                                                                         for these extreme feelings. You can learn from the past to keep other people
                                                                                         from developing the same feelings towards your company.




                            twitter.com/stevenVBe
b-conversational.com |
                                                                                                                                          B Conversational
Question 9
     If I become active on social media,
     do I run the risk of stimulating negativity?

     Consumers don’t need your permission to talk about your company.                  still about understanding your customers and reacting appropriately.
     Conversations will take place regardless of whether or not the company itself     In other words, it all starts with listening to what consumers have to say.
     is involved. If you’re not, then you don’t know what they are saying and you
     can’t react; by participating in the conversation, you are aware of what they     If your company is hesitant to create an online presence it can be very helpful
     are saying and you can react.                                                     to fall back on the three steps of conversation management:


     Also, your presence will have a psychological effect in limiting the number       •	 Observe: start by listening before you join in the conversation. As long as
     of negative conversations. After all, people are reticent to make negative           you are uncomfortable participating, the least you can do is listen.
     comments when the target of the remarks can hear them. It is very easy to         •	 Facilitate: make it easier to talk to you and about you.
     be angry with someone who isn’t in the room. Arguing with someone who is          •	 Join: take part in the conversation. Leave the safety of your brand identity
     actually there takes more nerve.                                                     and put a face on the brand in your capacity as marketer.


     The more human your style of conversation management, the fewer negative
                                                                                           As a manager                  As a brand                   As a peer
     conversations take place. Nevertheless, a major mistake by your company
     will result in an avalanche of negative comments. Again, this is not related to
     your presence or absence but to the mistake itself.

                                                                                           Observe                     Facilitate                      Join
     Not being active on social media means turning a deaf ear to your
     customers’ feedback and that’s obviously a bad idea. After all, marketing is




                            twitter.com/stevenVBe
b-conversational.com |
                                                                                                                                        B Conversational
Question 10
     What use do I have for conversation management
     if my customers aren’t on Facebook or Twitter?

     Conversation management goes beyond Facebook and Twitter. It’s about establish-
     ing an emotional connection with customers that results in positive conversations.
     These positive conversations are the basis for growth. I’ve never heard of a company
     that doesn’t care about positive conversations, regardless of the channel being used.


     Needless to say, the new media also play a role in conversation management. While
     it is true that not everyone uses these channels, they are still important to every
     company. Digital marketing goes beyond Facebook and Twitter. Company’s often
     underestimate the importance of their own website. Establishing your own channel
     for interactive communication with the customer is also part of a conversation strate-
     gy. This involves a larger target group, viz. the entire internet population.


     In addition, the indirect effect of social media is often much bigger than the direct
     effect. More and more, news is being shaped online. Once the classic media pick
     up a story, it grows and may eventually become a fad. The quickest road to offline
     visibility is scoring on social media. The opposite is also true: the quickest road to
     online success is your offline behaviour. In other words: thinking in silos is not a good
     idea. Everything is interconnected and every channel has its own part to play.




                             twitter.com/stevenVBe
b-conversational.com |
                                                                                                 B Conversational
To learn all details about my vision, check out my two books...




                         twitter.com/stevenVBe
b-conversational.com |
                                                        B Conversational
Feedback & suggestions?

                    I hope these questions and suggestions for answers help you to tackle
                    questions and issues in your day to day working environment.


                    If you have other experiences or suggestions, feel free to contact me.


                    	    Steven@VanBelleghem.Biz
                    	    @StevenVBe
                    	    linkedin.com/in/stevenvanbelleghem
                    	    facebook.com/theconversationmanager


                    Thank you and good luck!




                           twitter.com/stevenVBe
b-conversational.com |
                                                                                             B Conversational
The 10 faq about social media and conversation management

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The 10 faq about social media and conversation management

  • 1.
  • 2. The 10 most frequently asked questions about social media & Conversation Management Since the publication of my book ‘De Conversation Manager’ (2010), I’ve worked with quite a few companies to inspire and advise them in this new marketing field. ? The same questions keep coming back across all regions and sectors of activity. Social media, community and conversation managers will definitely recognise them, because they are the same type of questions they hear from colleagues every day. In view of these recurring questions, I thought it would be a good idea to make a list of the 10 most frequently asked questions and their answers. The contents are open to debate and new arguments can certainly be added to this summary. Please feel free to add your own contribution. twitter.com/stevenVBe b-conversational.com | B Conversational
  • 3. The 10 most frequently asked questions about social media & Conversation Management 1. Aren’t social media exclusively for B2C and not for B2B? 2. What is the profile of a Conversation Manager? 3. What if the boardroom doesn’t buy into social media? 4. What is the role of the product in social media? 5. Is operational conversation management something we do ourselves or should we call upon an outside company? 6. Are Facebook likes and Twitter followers important? 7. How do I get a lot of followers and likes? 8. How do I react to really negative people? 9. If I become active on social media, do I run the risk of stimulating negativity? 10. What use do I have for conversation management if my customers aren’t on Facebook or Twitter? twitter.com/stevenVBe b-conversational.com | B Conversational
  • 4.
  • 5. Question 1 Aren’t social media exclusively for B2C and not for B2B? The basic philosophy of conversational thinking is pretty simple and as old as For a B2B company, this is simply the next step in their existing approach; the hills: the best kind of publicity is an existing client convincing someone for a B2C company, including the consumer in the decision-making process else to work with your company. For years, manufacturers were able to exert often takes some getting used to. a strong influence on public perception through intelligent and creative publicity. In those pre-social media days, publicity produced an endless • Customer feedback has always been a first-hand experience. In a B2B stream of information about everyone and everything, thereby diminishing organisation, direct customer feedback comes with the territory. Since sales the impact of word of mouth. B2B marketers got to benefit much less from and service people work hand in hand with customers, they get feedback this luxury and, as a result, conversations have always been important in a B2B on the company’s operational processes and service straight from the context. Besides, I’m convinced that B2B marketers hold several advantages horse’s mouth. In a B2C context, though, feedback usually comes from a over B2C marketers: market survey. A slightly lower percentage of reactions is negative, but they are less personal and less direct than in a B2B context. • Knowing clients: a good B2B marketer knows who the company’s clients are (certainly the top clients). For instance, it is much harder for Coca Cola • Smaller volume of conversation. A final advantage is the fact that B2B to find the consumer who drinks the most Coke in Holland than it is for a companies average a smaller number of conversations. In terms of online company selling iron ore. conversations, an industrial company will average a lower volume than a food manufacturer. On the one hand this makes it harder to get the conversation • Co-creation is ingrained in the mentality: a lot of B2B companies started, but on the other hand it’s easier to manage and follow up. habitually involve clients in R&D projects. What’s more, a new product or technology is usually developed for specific client processes. Today, social media make it possible to convert co-creation into structural collaboration. twitter.com/stevenVBe b-conversational.com | B Conversational
  • 6.
  • 7. Question 2 What is the profile of a Conversation Manager? Since the publication of the original version of my book ‘The Conversation • Choice No. 2: The conversation manager as a facilitator of strategic change Manager’ (2010), many companies have gone looking for someone to put in Let’s consider why so many companies are looking for a conversation charge of their social media strategy. In quite a few cases, the job description manager. The answer is simple: we are living in a time of change. There was ‘conversation manager’ – thank you very much for that, by the way. isn’t a company out there that doesn’t realise we need a new form of When we analyse the many vacancies for conversation managers, it’s apparent interaction with the consumer. They want to engage the consumer in that two profiles are in demand. There’s the strategic approach on the one conversation so they go in search of someone to manage that conversation. hand and the operational approach on the other. Both jobs are valuable and Logical, isn’t it? What companies are really looking for is someone to aid both are essential to effective conversation management. I found the inspira- them in that transition. In order to facilitate that change, a strategically tion to describe both routes in the various papers of Jeremiah Owyang. competent conversation manager is the best choice. In this role, the conversation manager is proactively involved in determining the strategy. • Choice No. 1: The conversation manager as a reactive helpdesk The conversation manager heads the most important projects but also A large portion of the job descriptions for conversation managers remind me involves the other departments in his plans. He makes sure that the learning of the profile of a modern webmaster. These guys start up the conversation effect ripples throughout the organisation. In his ideas, he takes a proactive for the brand by sending Facebook and Twitter updates. Every day they go approach to other departments. The conversation manager determines looking for a small amount of content to put online. They represent major the content agenda of his organisation on a strategic level. He thinks a brands and help companies find their way in conversation management. year ahead and goes in search of the most relevant content in order to Every one of these tasks is of crucial importance but they are very operational in maximise the effect of the conversations about his company. He designs a nature. They execute the assignments they receive from various departments. conversion strategy: how can all these conversations lead to conversion and When someone is conducting a campaign, the conversation manager is consequently impact our turnover? there to help him promote it. When there’s a crisis, the conversation manager monitors the situation on behalf of those involved. Again, each one of these tasks is important but they still only cater to the operational aspect of the job. twitter.com/stevenVBe b-conversational.com | B Conversational
  • 8. General HR The choice is yours MGM We’ve explained there are two different ways of looking at conversation management. Both roles R&D Sales are important: one is an operational, executive role whereas the other has a strategic focus. When writing the job description, it’s a good Conversation idea to think about the place of the new role in Manager the overall structure of the organisation. Cust Mkt Care Most companies simply look for the operational people. However, operational people need ‘the (wo)man with the plan’. Combining both profiles is what generates true change. Legal IT twitter.com/stevenVBe b-conversational.com | B Conversational
  • 9.
  • 10. Question 3 What if the boardroom doesn’t buy into social media? The answer is simple: If you want to convince management of the use of social media, then don’t talk about social media. Instead you should talk about things that managers find important. One of the challenges for top managers is improving customer satisfaction at a lower cost. Another challenge consists in consolidating sales results in a world where customer contact is becoming a rare commodity. Base your arguments on the challenges they face. Explain the Social long-term advantages of your plan. Contribute to one of the company’s main M edia Plan goals through your social media plan. Also, it’s always a good idea to submit a concrete step-by-step plan. Such a plan brings clarity and sets people at ease. The plan consists of a number of pilots. Pilots with a long-term plan have the biggest impact. A successful pilot survives the initial test phase. The ideal pilot is a pilot with the ability to keep evolving with time. Try to include a broad spectrum of factors in the plan. It shouldn’t merely outline the external communication strategy but also the role that staff will play. Take the structural changes into account and be transparent about the investments required for the plan to be successful. twitter.com/stevenVBe b-conversational.com | B Conversational
  • 11.
  • 12. Question 4 What is the role of the product in social media? It goes without saying that the quality of the product is essential. Analysis of consumer conversations clearly shows that customer experience is the topic of conversation in Develop Help customers more than 50% of cases. This experience is always a combination of product quality conversation Grow an active with issues, starters around group of brand and the quality of the service. When these two elements are satisfactory, you’re off to a thank them for your advocates flying start on social media: thanks to the quality of the product, consumers will already compliments product/brand be exchanging their product experiences of their own accord. The product has already created a positive buzz, regardless of what you yourself are doing. if product/service quality is OK If your product is lacking in quality then you will be confronted with that fact in a hurry. Faster than ever before, careful observation tells a company what’s wrong with its products. We can help consumers by taking part in the conversation, but even more Product & service than that, it’s crucial to bring the observations into the R&D department and make actual improvements to the product. if product/service quality is not OK In other words, product quality has a major impact on conversation management. If your product and the accompanying service are up to par then you can start brainstorming about creative content campaigns because consumers are prepared to Improve/new Listen and be talk about your company. If either your product or the service are below average, then product empathic for Use consumer you will need to focus on observation and on neutralising conversation management. negative feedback Thank consumer Of course, this also creates an opportunity. Using consumer feedback to improve your feedback for feedback product makes a company look good to its consumers. twitter.com/stevenVBe b-conversational.com | B Conversational
  • 13.
  • 14. Question 5 Is operational conversation management something we do ourselves or should we call upon an outside company? In a perfect world it’s better to implement conversation management ourselves. Managing the direct relationship with the customer yourself is undoubtedly an asset. In some cases, though, it’s better to use a partner: • If round-the-clock availability is required but the terms of employment don’t allow it. • If the company lacks the in-house knowledge to take part in the conversation. • To provide assistance at peak moments. For instance, if a company can handle the daily flow of conversations but needs outside help for a product launch, they may call upon an outside partner to help them deal with the peak in activity. • In case of a pressing need for specific competencies that are not available within the company. In the future, marketing organisations will try to become more flexible. As a result, the number of in-house staff may drop as companies are quicker to call upon a specialised outside firm. The service providers’ expertise on the subject of online participation may become so high that working with an outside partner becomes an asset. The conclusion is that apart from the ideal case scenario, there’s also the everyday reality to take into account. twitter.com/stevenVBe b-conversational.com | B Conversational
  • 15.
  • 16. Question 6 Are Facebook likes and Twitter followers important? Many social media experts would say ‘no’ but I beg to differ. However, two Still, keep in mind that your efforts should be based on a clear strategy. conditions must be fulfilled: first of all, the fans and followers must be gen- You can devise a strategy using the four steps outlined below: uine fans instead of ‘purchased fans’. And secondly, you have to get those followers involved. An entirely passive audience has little worth. 1. Draw up a content conversion plan Think carefully about which content areas you would like to tackle. Also, If these two conditions are fulfilled, building a wide reach is a great asset. it’s a good idea to select a digital location that offers the best odds of This is true for several reasons: conversion, of reaching your goals. Next you try to bring as many people to that location as possible. • The main reason: while the investments in campaigns and content remain the same, their impact increases. In turn, this generates a bigger impact on 2. Build reach investment. Once the strategy is in place, you have to build reach. See also the next question for more pointers on the subject. • Managers like figures and success indicators. As a conversation manager, you will have to report to your superiors from time to time. A growing 3. Generate commitment through content online reach may help you secure additional means. The content should be worthy of conversation. It should invite interaction and make people feel involved with the brand. • The perception of the outside world is still determined by volume and reach. 4. From likes to ambassadors The final step consists in activating people. When your fans start talking about your brand to other people, that’s when the likes have been converted into ambassadors. twitter.com/stevenVBe b-conversational.com | B Conversational
  • 17. These four phases are obviously not entirely sequential; there is an overlap between phases 2, 3 and 4. In our strategy, it’s not that hard to define the necessary actions for the various steps. In real life, though, we need to be flexible enough to adapt to consumer needs in a moment’s notice. Once a certain stage is reached, phases 2, 3 and 4 become iterative steps in an eternal loop designed to build reach and create more ambassadors. Conversion Convince with content & interaction Build reach through campaigns Content Touchpoint plan TIME twitter.com/stevenVBe b-conversational.com | B Conversational
  • 18.
  • 19. Question 7 How do I get a lot of followers and likes? Three conditions must be fulfilled to build reach: • Campaigns worthy of conversation: invest in strong online campaigns to boost the reach of the online channels. 1. Strong content: the most important way of building reach is sharing • Competitions & free giveaways: giving away free products is an effective relevant, creative and enjoyable content with your network. Not only should method of building reach in the very short term. The drawback of this the actual content be good, but more than anything else it should also be approach is there are no guarantees of attracting the right people. Many visually convincing. Our communications are slipping back toward the age companies get a lot of ‘fans’ this way but their quality is often questionable. of hieroglyphics: text is slowly but surely disappearing from the online world When using this strategy, the trick is to convince people through high- and photos and videos are taking over. quality content. 2. Discipline: doing something fun once a year just isn’t enough. You have • Social advertising: good content deserves to be seen. Promote your to settle on a rhythm for making and sharing strong content. Keep to that content with social media ads. rhythm even if not much is happening in the short run. Discipline coupled • Activating staff: a company should always have more fans than staff. If with patience is a second condition. your own staff are not interested in the content then you can’t expect the 3. Be human: don’t fall into the trap of one-way communication on social customer to take an interest. Train and coach your staff so they become media. Keep it human. Play an active role in the conversation, react to other active ambassadors of your social media activities. people’s input, joke around… Make the personality of your brand tangible. • Offline communication: building reach goes way beyond the online channels themselves. Mentioning the online channels in every form of Then there are also a number of more commercially oriented possibilities to communication will help build your reach on a structural level. Mention the build reach. The challenge is to balance the scales. Don’t just go for the fast online channels in all communications: TV commercials, banners, posters, build-up of fans but always concentrate on finding good fans. I have outlined printed ads, publicity at the mall … a few ideas that work but you should take care to use them in a way that fits • Work with partners that have a wide reach: If you have a good the brand while still attracting good fans: relationship with strong brands that already have a wide online reach then you should look into the possibility of them sharing your content as well. twitter.com/stevenVBe b-conversational.com | B Conversational
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  • 21. Question 8 How do I react to really negative people? There are two kinds of negative people. The first kind had a bad experience with your company and the second kind is negative by nature. The first are relatively easy to convert. The second are the so-called grouchy smurfs that are impossible to please. Both groups require a different approach. Negative reactions after an incident: open a dialogue Haters: ignore their hate but understand its source This group often spreads negative content about your company. They feel This group has lost all trust in your company. They are convinced your com- you should do better (as opposed to positive criticism from those who think pany simply can’t do any better. Everything you say and do comes across the you COULD do better). Open a dialogue and listen to their feedback. Maybe wrong way. The thought of having anything to do with your company makes you can make some actual improvements that will change their opinion of them shudder. You won’t change their minds, not even through dialogue, so your company. Make sure their negative comments are processed in a posi- there’s little sense in reacting to their negative comments. Anything you say tive, empathic manner. Even if their opinion doesn’t change, at least you’ve will only fuel their anger and it’s a discussion you can’t win. Don’t pay any neutralised the negative conversation. attention to them. Do not delete their negative comments but simply ignore their remarks. By reacting, you are giving the impression they’re succeeding in their mission. The only interesting thing is to determine (listen) the cause for these extreme feelings. You can learn from the past to keep other people from developing the same feelings towards your company. twitter.com/stevenVBe b-conversational.com | B Conversational
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  • 23. Question 9 If I become active on social media, do I run the risk of stimulating negativity? Consumers don’t need your permission to talk about your company. still about understanding your customers and reacting appropriately. Conversations will take place regardless of whether or not the company itself In other words, it all starts with listening to what consumers have to say. is involved. If you’re not, then you don’t know what they are saying and you can’t react; by participating in the conversation, you are aware of what they If your company is hesitant to create an online presence it can be very helpful are saying and you can react. to fall back on the three steps of conversation management: Also, your presence will have a psychological effect in limiting the number • Observe: start by listening before you join in the conversation. As long as of negative conversations. After all, people are reticent to make negative you are uncomfortable participating, the least you can do is listen. comments when the target of the remarks can hear them. It is very easy to • Facilitate: make it easier to talk to you and about you. be angry with someone who isn’t in the room. Arguing with someone who is • Join: take part in the conversation. Leave the safety of your brand identity actually there takes more nerve. and put a face on the brand in your capacity as marketer. The more human your style of conversation management, the fewer negative As a manager As a brand As a peer conversations take place. Nevertheless, a major mistake by your company will result in an avalanche of negative comments. Again, this is not related to your presence or absence but to the mistake itself. Observe Facilitate Join Not being active on social media means turning a deaf ear to your customers’ feedback and that’s obviously a bad idea. After all, marketing is twitter.com/stevenVBe b-conversational.com | B Conversational
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  • 25. Question 10 What use do I have for conversation management if my customers aren’t on Facebook or Twitter? Conversation management goes beyond Facebook and Twitter. It’s about establish- ing an emotional connection with customers that results in positive conversations. These positive conversations are the basis for growth. I’ve never heard of a company that doesn’t care about positive conversations, regardless of the channel being used. Needless to say, the new media also play a role in conversation management. While it is true that not everyone uses these channels, they are still important to every company. Digital marketing goes beyond Facebook and Twitter. Company’s often underestimate the importance of their own website. Establishing your own channel for interactive communication with the customer is also part of a conversation strate- gy. This involves a larger target group, viz. the entire internet population. In addition, the indirect effect of social media is often much bigger than the direct effect. More and more, news is being shaped online. Once the classic media pick up a story, it grows and may eventually become a fad. The quickest road to offline visibility is scoring on social media. The opposite is also true: the quickest road to online success is your offline behaviour. In other words: thinking in silos is not a good idea. Everything is interconnected and every channel has its own part to play. twitter.com/stevenVBe b-conversational.com | B Conversational
  • 26. To learn all details about my vision, check out my two books... twitter.com/stevenVBe b-conversational.com | B Conversational
  • 27. Feedback & suggestions? I hope these questions and suggestions for answers help you to tackle questions and issues in your day to day working environment. If you have other experiences or suggestions, feel free to contact me. Steven@VanBelleghem.Biz @StevenVBe linkedin.com/in/stevenvanbelleghem facebook.com/theconversationmanager Thank you and good luck! twitter.com/stevenVBe b-conversational.com | B Conversational