Conversation. A Step To Relationships


Blogging101How do you develop relationships through social media? It's a question that comes up more times than not from people who are new to social media marketing. However, telling someone who has just begun her "sm" adventure to join the conversation, comment on a post, get involved not only can sound intimidating but blog speak gibberish can be as confusing as corporate speak.

Skipping around the blogosphere I came across three wonderful posts from three favorite Divas, Valeria Maltoni, CK Kerley and Wendy Piersall. Their posts dove-tail and after commenting on Valeria's and CK's posts I thought .. hmm .. this would be a tangible example of how joining the conversation might look.  Plus the posts do support each other and it's fun to bring them to your attention, if you haven't found them already.

To start .. in her post, You're Asking The Wrong Question, Valeria continued the conversation begun by Wendy about the issue that many marketers have - "How can you keep control of your brand with a blog, social media & user-generated content?" Valeria set the stage for her ideas by spinning off of what Wendy discussed and of course adding her own unique thoughts:

My slight contribution to her short answer is that you never controlled the conversation, you only thought you did because consumers did not talk back.

Valeria ended her discussion with a new question to consider -

The right question is how can I let people see as much as possible (and practical) of what's going on so they can choose for themselves?

Commenters on Valeria's post continued the discussion adding their own thoughts and ideas. Here's my addition to the thread -

Long or short ... another thoughtful post. I agree with your stance; smart marketers always knew "you never controlled the conversation, you only thought you did" .. but instead of  "because consumers did not talk back" I propose that customers did talk back to companies and to each other. However, technology e.g., the internet, social media has provided our customers with many opportunities for their voices to be amplified and to be heard by more people, who in turn, add their thoughts/voices and take to the "virtual streets."

The challenge for business is not only to listen and learn but to acknowledge, take specific action and become involved in a multiple dimension exchange. The impact from social media goes beyond the importance to join the "conversation" to developing new ways of conducting business including creating internal information processes, as well as, sophisticated customer feedback mechanisms.

When I read this one sentence in CK's Taking It To The Streets post I had a bloggy light bulb moment.

In order to engage executives around social media, they need to feel comfortable.

So simple .. so elegant .. so very true .. and so often forgotten. There are steps to take  Before change takes place and people feel at ease participating in a very public conversation. My comment to CK -

Thanks for sharing your time on the 'street.' I especially loved your take away - make people feel comfortable. We talk so much about listening but the step even before "hearing" is to alleviate fears so people are open to new ideas. Helping people feel comfortable (in a safe environment) is critical to making that happen. Bravo CK!

CK acknowledged what I wrote and continued our conversation on step further -

@Toby: Thanks, for sure the bravo goes to Susan Bird for being so savvy to include us. All it takes is a comfortable conversation ;-).

Conversations online hop from one blog to another; thought adding to thought, involving more people; changing morphing ideas. Through idea exchange relationships begin to develop and grow. Rather like in the 'real world' wouldn't you say?

If you're new to the world of public, viral communication I hope you feel comfortable exchanging ideas here on Diva. Consider this a safe space to take the first steps of your travels to an exciting adventure.


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Tracked on Oct 29, 2007 5:26:44 PM


Excellent. I think understanding how the social media novices, who are also key decision makers with or without social media knowledge at this point,is critical.

Posted by: Mike Chapman on Oct 29, 2007 10:34:08 AM

Sorry for the incomplete sentence. It's important to consider the thought process of the decision makers who are social media novices at this point. I hear a lot about the fish bowl from Connie Reece. Helping those outside the fish bowl to understand social media is an important mission.

Posted by: Mike Chapman on Oct 29, 2007 12:16:35 PM

Great continuation Toby! :)

You led me to make an interesting observation. The people who were at the conference weren't really the ones scared of the conversation. They were there to get ammunition to sell the rest of the company on the idea.

So it stands to reason that the people who needed the most help were the ones least likely to participate in the online conversation in the first place.

Perhaps if these marketers were able to get a little more involved with the social community online, they would be more comfortable with the process.

Sounds like a great idea for another online community - where marketers can talk to marketers! :P

Posted by: Wendy Piersall on Oct 29, 2007 6:59:54 PM

I am very open about my blog and Twitter stream at work. I show my boss and colleagues what happens when I put a question out there and receive instant or near instant responses from the community. That is very powerful. Perhaps less talking, more doing is part of the answer.

Thank you for picking a thread of this shared thought, Toby.

Posted by: Valeria Maltoni on Oct 29, 2007 11:15:13 PM

Hello :-)

I love the idea of creating a safe, welcoming, hospitable and friendly environment for people - which you've clearly done here!

I think part of the trick is establishing rapport - including pacing the experience of your readers and listeners. You're acknowledging the fears and awkwardness that might get in the way of conversation. It makes it much easier for people to join in because they think - gosh, that person sounds just like me...


Posted by: Blog Angel Team on Oct 31, 2007 5:52:22 AM

@Joanna/Blog Angel Team - You made my day! Thanks for your very kind words.
I guess at the end of the day we're looking to connect to a "person who sounds just like me." To do that we look for similarities and shared interests .. even if the person is way for different we try to find that little association piece and social media can play a powerful role.

@Valeria - The transparency with which you can approach your company about your social media work speaks volumes about the culture of the organization. All for talking less and doing more raise your hand. Mine is held high.

@Wendy - It's funny how we frequently we can't see the leaves on the trees. Or if we do we don't really see the colors. Then snap! a simple idea or word brings insight .. and great ideas. In this case for me it was CK's word "comfort." Looking forward to how your ideas will play out.

@Mike - My light bulb bloggy moment was when I realizing social media is more than just a marketing strategy .. it's a shift in how we do business. Or as Francois said to me - the way business should be done. With that concept, the C-suite becomes a critical element. Thanks for your insight. By the way, I too am a member of the Connie Reece fan club :-)

Posted by: Toby on Oct 31, 2007 9:42:24 AM

The first toe in the water is always the hardest one... But the water is always just right and cool (unless you are Wal-Mart.).

Posted by: Geoff Livingston on Oct 31, 2007 8:24:51 PM

Hi Toby,

Thanks for the insights. You are so right on. Even if our tech-savvy world, it always comes down to relationships. The blogs we love are written by people we imagine we would be friends with, just like the people we do business with our people we like. Great tips here!


Posted by: Heather Strang on Nov 1, 2007 2:26:37 PM

Hi Toby,

Thanks for the insights. You are so right on. Even if our tech-savvy world, it always comes down to relationships. The blogs we love are written by people we imagine we would be friends with, just like the people we do business with our people we like. Great tips here!


Posted by: Heather Strang on Nov 1, 2007 2:26:54 PM

I am so glad to have stumbled my way here! Finally a group of people who want to communicate.

Valeria expressed my sentiments exactly - creating a safe, welcoming, hospitable and friendly environment for people.

It's what I've been doing at my own blog, trying to find my 'voice' that will connect me with my readers. Still working on it but thanks to all of you, I'm getting there.

Posted by: Georjina on Nov 4, 2007 9:34:56 PM

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