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The Top 5 Ways Companies are UnMarketing to Connect Conversationally 

Don't Market, Position Conversationally

Conversations are the new brand experience - Salesforce

It is no secret that brand interactions have changed, a lot. Social channels and crowd-sourced review forums give people the chance to connect with peers at scale and be influencers without being an endorsed celebrity.  So, power lies with the consumer today, more than at any point in the past. 

There is a shift of authority from brands to the individual in the decentralization of media.   

You can blast your opinion out on LinkedIn, Instagram, or any other media channel, just like everyone else.  We all can put forth our judgment on social as part of our personal enterprise, leave a scathing review of a lousy dining experience, or drop an insightful product review out on the web that is valuable to the next consumer. 

The collective opinion of our peers outweighs the sponsored ad. 

The ad might create awareness, but public opinion shapes our final decision. If you are like me, you check the Yelp review before going to a new restaurant and if the reviews are "meh" you can find something else online and go there instead.   

What does this mean for brands?

I was talking to an influencer yesterday who said the NFL was feeling like the consumer has all the power.  Brands are no longer running the plays, so to speak.  Even a community-based brand like the NFL with a massive fan base is fumbling on the play for engagement.  The dispersion of influence means that consumers are empowered, so brands must connect with consumers on their, ahem, turf.

Says Rob Bennet in VoiceBot.AI "For as long as we can remember, brands have led the conversation. Brands talked and we listened – but now consumers are in control and brands are struggling to get their customers' attention." Totally agree, Rob.

To produce meaningful content, companies are shifting their mindset away from marketing.

Here are the ways companies are “un-marketing” today: 

1. Communicating Conversationally

2. Creating Community, Not An Ad Campaign

3. Engaging with Influencers

4. Employing Brand Storytelling

5. Repeating Fluid Content

1. Communicating Conversationally

At the end of the day, we are all consumers.  So hey brands, don't talk at us, chat with us!  
Forbes, The Future of Messaging

Brands tend to broadcast their content and advertise. 

But content and advertising techniques that worked years ago don't work today.  Because people no longer view big-media as the definitive source that tactic only backfires.  You and I can triangulate data, see what other consumers are saying about a product, and conduct our own competitive analysis right from our phone.

We are more likely to tune in with companies that:

1. Spark a connection on an issue that is important to us in the channel we hang out in

2.  Are human and authentic through sharing stories about people or business challenges and success.   

3.  Join a conversation without advertising.   

4Use infotainment strategies to share information entertainingly

Companies today must treat the consumer as an equal, interacting conversationally and producing entertaining, yet informational content. 

There are about 3.2 billion social media users worldwide with an average time spent on social media of 2 hours and 22 minutes a day per person.  This is a massive opportunity for brands to strike a conversation.   

2. Create A Community and Not An Ad Campaign

Create content that's engaging rather than simply advertising.

Of course, paid media has a role in creating awareness and delivering a consumable message. Creating organic awareness is a battle, so promotion and advertising are essential tools to build momentum.  Make them relatable and use them to engage the community.  Think about how companies start out. Your first customers come from your community and the people in your network.  People work with people, so remember to connect with the communities you sell into.   

To create an atmosphere of community requires a strong compelling brand culture. To make the customer feel like they are part of your tribe, and vice versa, you'll need your employees feeling great about their work and your purpose.

Consumers nowadays can choose who they want to engage with more than ever.

They can ignore brands on their social media feeds or block ads that they don't want to see, which is why creating a community around your brand is imperative for building your audience, getting more leads and growing your business.   

The idea is to stop focusing on campaigns, and instead focus on positioning, visibility, commitment, and building relationships.

According to a survey by OnBrand, 70% of marketers say that building an audience is more important than direct sales. Building a community and a following will augment your ability to convert followers into customers over time because selling to your entourage of loyal fans is way easier than selling to a stranger who happens to see your ad on the web.

3. Engage with Influencers 

Influencer marketing is considered a type of word of mouth marketing strategy on steroids.  And with the active role influencers play these days -- not only in the field of marketing but in many more areas, it makes them invaluable as endorsers for your brand.

As social media becomes an integrated part of everyone's lives, influencer marketing has blown up. People are turning to their favorite Twitter personalities, Instagram models, and YouTube channels for advice and recommendations on purchasing decisions. 

Social media has allowed people to build their brand through content and engagement to amass followers. 

And these new influencers are more relatable than traditional celebrities as 70% of teens trust influencers more than celebrities. Another statistic shows that 6 in 10 teens follow advice from influencers over stars. 

In a recent survey,  49% of consumers claim that they depend on influencer recommendations on social media to help them make their purchasing decisions. This means that if consumers feel confident in the advice from an influencer, they'll be more likely to purchase the product.  The statistic also makes it evident that brands could piggyback on the power of influencers to reach out to their customers. 

My faves: Chad Oda, Kathleen Walch, Martin Ford Fei Fei Li, Kate Crawford, Spiros Margaris

If you are into statistics, you may want to read "The Influencer Marketing Industry Global Ad Spend:a $5-$10 billion market by 2020. In 2019, 19% of marketers are spending between $1000 to $10,000 annually on influencer marketing, while 18% are spending $100,000 to 500,000. There are a handful of companies planning to spend over a over a million dollars on influencer marketing. Influencer marketing will only keep on growing, and while it might not be the right thing for every single company or brand, more brands are shifting their spend from advertising to influencer outreach.

4. Repeating Fluid Content

It isn't only acceptable to repeat social media posts, but it's also necessary to reach your audience. It's not uncommon to work strenuously on a killer piece of content and then share it on social media to the ear-splitting silence.  

This is when most marketers and content creators throw in the towel and move on to the next piece of content. The good news is that with some work you can leverage that work to adjust the copy, visuals, and length to place the branded content back out into channels to create a presence. 

It's an indisputable fact that your followers aren't online 24/7, and even when they are, they don't necessarily see your post due to low organic reach and competition. So for instance, if you're on twitter, Increasing the chance of your followers seeing/engaging with your post is even more significant considering that the average half-life of a tweet is just 30 minutes! And if you're on Facebook, then you probably know that Facebook pages' organic reach has regularly decreased over the last few years, dropping from 16% to 6.5%. 

But what if I sound too spammy? 

When social media posts are repeated with moderation, it's unlikely to be regarded as spam, even if a follower sees a post more than once.

The key is to provide benefit or interest in your content, so your followers value you sharing it with them. On the other hand, repeating the same content every hour will undoubtedly annoy even your most forgiving followers, no matter how interesting it might be. 

Using a scheduling tool enables you to identify and avoid any possible overlap, congestion, or saturation. Moreover, you should take your own social media habits into account. How often do you think is too much for you? This will give you a reasonable implication of what to avoid. 

The types of social media posts you can repeat can include:

● Regular promotions or events 

● Content with still-relevant links 

● Evergreen and timeless content 

● Popular posts 

● Big news 

● Content with high value 

● Content for different time zones 

5. Brand storytelling 

Create relatable and compelling content; more precisely, create a story that's beneficial for both your brand and the consumer. 

The essence of every business and the core it is built upon is a promise to offer consumers resolutions, better results, or better experiences. But how can you connect with prospects and potential customers, and how can you persuade them that your brand has the answers and the solutions they're seeking? 

Storytelling is a content marketing tool you can use to deliver your brand's message. It is a powerful content marketing strategy that helps you build relationships. If you share a story that consumers can instantly relate to, they will take the time to listen to your message and learn about the advantages of using your brand. 

If you're just starting out and you want your voice to be heard, then brand storytelling is a must. But what makes it that important? 

In fact, storytelling will not only increase your brand favorability in your audience's eyes, but it can also be memorable up to 22 times more than facts. Our neural activity increases up to 5 times when listening to a story. 

And not only that but storytelling also lights up the brain's sensory cortex which makes listeners hear, feel, taste, and even smell the story you're telling. 

A great example is a promotional campaign ran by Google 2013 in India using a clever ad. In this commercial, Google tells the story of two friends who've been separated as a result of the India-Pakistan partition and then brought back together after six decades, thanks to Google Search. 

Conclusion: Don’t Market, Position Conversationally

Go into chat mode with your customers and see if you don't build more customers, leads, online recognition, and sales.  Social networks are made to discuss and converse with others. So if your audience isn't your top priority – you won't be able to see any results.  Conversations really do create an engaged audience, establishing your brand's presence across all your social channels.

Written By Michelle Hansen