Some people think that being a Conversation Manager is only about monitoring conversations on social media and responding to those messages. Those of you who really understand what conversation management is about, know that observing & participating in online conversations is only one aspect of the tasks of a Conversation Manager.
In fact, the heart of conversation management comes down to a new form of brand management. Only if consumers identify their personal values in the values of a brand, they are willing to start the conversations. No brand identification = no positive word-of-mouth. This implies: manage your brand more as a person, a human.
Last week I had the opportunity to present at the Marketing Day, a marketing event with more than 1200 marketing professionals (organized by WDM Belgium & the Belgian Post group). The theme of the conference was about trust. In my presentation I explained how trust is the minimum demand towards brand identification. The moment consumers don’t trust a brand anymore, the identification is gone and so is the positive word of mouth.
In his book, the Speed of Trust, Covey explains in a very simple way how you can maintain trust as a brand. Four criteria are important: Intent (you need to have a positive intention to do the right thing), Integrity (honesty, openness …), you need some clear capabilities and finally people want to see results. As soon as one of those four aspects is down, well, there goes your trust. Looking at what went wrong with Toyota in the last few months: questions about the capabilities and questions about their integrity because of bad communication. Looking at what is happening at Nestlé these days: serious questions about capabilities, integrity and intent. Again, the corporate communication is killing the integrity and intent trust drivers.
Why this focus on trust? Well, once you’ve reached the minimum demand of trust, it opens the door to brand identification, which leads to positive word-of-mouth. Positive word-of-mouth leads to more sales (that’s something research thought us).
For me, brand identification supported by trust is really the heart of conversation management. The stories about social media, activation and so on, are the more sexy stories, of course. But talking about trust and brand identification is the key to success with conversation management. Without brand identification, you’ll have a lot of frustration as Conversation Manager, as you won’t have that many positive stories to look at.