Why having great content isn’t enough

More and more I see brand strategists and other thought leaders talking about the importance of having great content on their sites to improve traffic and drive consideration. I’m of the belief that simply isn’t enough. Yes, great content, keyword strings, sound coding and SEO are all really important for getting people to your site. But once they’ve made it to your property, read your pitch and have begun the consideration process, what are you doing to engage them?

And thus, we have to address the dreaded customer relationship marketing thingy. I’m not going to lie to you. I believe most companies flat out suck at this. You might have something that totally interests me. I love what I find on your Web site and you might give me a channel to talk about how much I love both those things, but if you don’t talk back to me and acknowledge the fact that I’ve actually taken the time to give you my feedback, I won’t interact with your site again or bother to respond to your survey etc. And it’s in that assurance that you’ll converse with me that perhaps the most important key to blogging comes out: Establishing Trust.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a top 10, top 5 or even a top 2 list of ways to guarantee that people visiting your site will trust you. It’s a subjective thing, and damn is it ever frustrating when you can’t establish it. Building Trust with readership takes time. You have to be absolutely congruent with what you’re writing about and when you do converse with readers/consumers, you have to be and portray yourself as a person of authenticity and character. Even more difficult is getting those readers to perceive you as such and then connect with it.

Yes, you’ll fail. You’ll piss some people off and yes, a lot of people simply may not enjoy the person who happens to be the voice for your product, service or brand. But if you’re not interacting with consumers to make the attempt to build trust, you’re falling into the old way of marketing… shouting from the rooftops until someone hears you, blind to the fact that you have absolutely no real control about what people perceive your brand to be without talking honestly with them about it. If you go that route, let me know how that works out for you.

Photo: Dora Pete

Damming the Twitter stream

This morning I was following more than 900 people, and even with Tweetdeck, I decided that it was just information overload. I had to narrow my scope and damn the gushing stream of information, only allowing relevant (to my newly intended purpose) tweets to trickle through.

A few posts back, I wrote about how I converse on Twitter. Even since that posting, I’ve changed how I use it.

Why the change? I’m simply missing information I believe I NEED to receive. I may WANT to follow everyone who follows me back, or follow a ton of brands to dig up information on new products; but the fact of the matter is, I don’t NEED all of the information I’ve been getting.

So, how does this happen? How does someone get overwhelmed by Twitter? My answer would be that it happens differently for different users, depending on what they’re using Twitter for.

Personally, I’ve now resolved to use Twitter for three things:

1. To keep tabs on friends and co-workers, discussing like interests and projects with them
2. To monitor the automotive industry, automotive enthusiasts and brands I have a particular interest in
3. To monitor trends in social media and content marketing

Somewhere along the line I got clumsy, and greedy. I followed far too many people and invested follows in folks who didn’t contribute anything that I could offer a point of view on. And I was getting so much data, that I’d consistently miss conversations I should have been a part of. I believe I was getting too focused on improving my Twitter Grade, and forgot about what I began using Twitter for in the first place – to take part in conversations about the things I’m interested in.

The real goal is to keep information relevant and interesting to those that are following me. Sure, the three different audiences may get tired of the odd combination of tweets I provide, but that’s the beauty of social networking. We get exposed to some things we otherwise may not have ever known about. Because of this, I’ve hung onto people who share my other interests, which include racing, outdoor activities, hockey and green living. I didn’t want to give up those occasional things that broadened my horizons on these topics.

I’ve managed to pare my follow list to 729, and vow not to breach 750 (still a sizable list!). In that process, I did end up removing people who were still following me. This was a difficult thing for me to do, but when it comes right down to it, I caught myself following people and brands I had absolutely no interest in. Not to mention, my Twitter use is not singularly focused on one client, product or the agency I work for. If I were tweeting with a singular focus I’d probably follow everyone back, attempting to engage those folks in conversation about the brand they followed in the first place.

I like that I’m leaner, and if I unfollowed you or don’t follow you back, I hope you don’t take offense. I’m simply trying to make Twitter’s valuable information stream work for and with me. Open to thoughts and comments. Fire away!

Photo: Michelle Kwajafa

Is 2009 the year of the Conversation Officer?

Back in October, Joe Jaffe (@jaffeejuice) wrote a case study for the US Postal Service’s Deliver Magazine. In the study he discusses a trend he sees coming by 2012 – the development of the “Chief Conversation Officer.”

Jaffe says the Chief Conversation Officer will replace the traditional Chief Marketing Officer, serving as the true conduit between corporation and consumer. These new executives will essentially bring all customer conversations under one roof. They’ll be able to bridge the gap between public relations and consumer outreach, creating true integration and conversation about the brand.

I believe that that time is coming much sooner than 2012 for some companies as some have already started to adopt some of the roles of the Chief Conversation Officer.

Take the Michigan based Biggby Coffee as a great example of a company already putting this into practice. The company’s CEO Robert Fish (@BiggbyBob), is an active Twitter user, blogger and advocate for his brand.

I know what you’re thinking. Every CEO is a brand advocate. But not every CEO takes the time to engage with consumers, bring their consumers into product focus groups and do his or her own PR. What Bob Fish does well is have actual conversations with the people who consume his coffee. He’s friendly, honest and above all, engaging.

He’s also very open to rewarding those who are considering his brand. Fish entices fringe adopters by encouraging them to get in discussions with others who drink Biggby Coffee, without alienating those who are already true Biggby believers. This fantastic fan base is a true army of brand loyalists who act as evangelists for the brand. And in today’s challenging business climate, when loyalty is a fleeting thing, Biggby is committed to conversations with its consumers. Biggby isn’t just monitoring what its customers are saying effective response and responsiveness. As Jaffe writes in his book, and as Biggby has put into practice, “every customer complaint, compliment, question or concern deserves and mandates our time, our effort, our investment.”

In 2009, as more companies take the plunge into social media, I’m sure we’ll see more brands start to take these sorts of steps. We can only hope they don’t use these tools as another means to simply shout their message. It’s not another tool for companies to use, it’s about conversations. What other companies do you know of that are already using Chief Conversation Officers? Comments appreciated.

Photo by: Nara Vieira da Silva Osga