Those of us working in marketing have been inundated on the topic of “conversation”. Joe Jaffe asked us to “Join the Conversation”, told we’re living in the Age of Conversation and so on. But what does this mean in practical terms? What do we mean by “conversation” and how do we apply that to our brands and businesses?

Valeria Maltoni – the “Conversation Agent” – has a great presentation on this very topic. As Valeria points out, “Human involvement is what gives brands the strongest competitive differentiation today”. This means, basically, that engagement is driven by a connection between individuals – from someone who works in your business to someone who does not. It’s personalised, mass communication – not a faceless “message”.

One way of making this happen is to follow the SMILE approach:

  • Small – make sure your content is small and easily digestible. Don’t write 1000 words when 140 characters will do
  • Meaningful – ensure that your content means something to your audience. It’s one thing to push your content out, but you do want people to read it too!
  • Intent – make your intent with the content transparent. Don’t say one thing and do another
  • Laugh out loud – the three word acronym LOL means “laugh out loud”. Don’t forget that much of our inter-personal communication is based on sharing and humour. Share that aspect of your personality in your content
  • Engage – make sure to follow-up with conversations/comments as they occur. Don’t let the conversation start and end abruptly.

For brands this means creating content that starts, prompts, continues or even closes down conversations that are taking place online. But as you can see, the basis of this engagement is personal.