Is your brand living in the conversational stream?

Is your brand living in the conversational stream?

According to Nielsen, consumers spent more than five and half hours living in the conversational streams of  Facebook and Twitter in December 2009, an 82% increase from the same time last year when users were spending just over three hours. And, of course that was followed by an astronomical increase of unique visitors.

Image from Nielsen Blog

Image from Nielsen Blog

Ahh, so what is this conversational stream you ask?  Well, given this growth in social networking, I wonder how often you check your Twitter stream and hit refresh? What about Facebook? Do you click back and forth between the “live feed” and “news feed” to see what your friends are talking about? I do quite often. Have you ever noticed people talking about a product, brand or maybe the outcome of an election? This is the conversational stream (some call it activity stream or just stream).  Brian Solis refers to this as the attention dashboard; whereby all of our attention is deep rooted in the thoughts, ideas, opinions, and perceptions of the communities that we belong and subscribe to.

As a consumer, living in the attention dashboard is natural.  I have a vested interest in what my community actually cares about. So when a friend posts a link to a review of product that he/she just bought and raves about its features; I am probably going to click on it to see what all the hype is about.

For a brand, this is a huge opportunity but it also presents a few challenges.  Steve Rubel, a friend and colleague at Edelman sums it up here:

To mitigate this ongoing trend of streams, communicators will need to: 1) be as ubiquitous as possible, 2) adopt multiple messages, stories and formats and 3) make sure you allow your employees to get out there – in other words, use the force, don’t fight it.

Here is how I see it. Brands need to be relevant. Skip the marketing messages that go through rounds and rounds of approvals from the brand and legal teams. No one reads it anyway. Equip and empower your marketing/PR/product groups to become brand evangelists so they can participate on the social web starting within their own micro-communities. What you will find is relevant messages appearing in others’ streams. Participation means that “relevant branded content” will be omnipresent on the social web; from the Google search results, Delicious & Stumbleupon bookmarks, to links being shared in Twitter and Facebook.

Of course, I have a tendency of oversimplifying everything. There are many issues to consider about real time community engagement but you catch my drift, hopefully.  If not, get with me on Twitter and I will clarify.

About Michael Brito

Michael Brito has been making things happen online since 1996 with a legit hustle. He gets mad when the 49ers lose, really mad. Feel free to follow him on Twitter.

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  • http://www.whitehatmedia.com/ SocialMediaStylist

    It would be great if we could “skip the marketing messages that go through round and rounds of approvals” but the fact remains that companies are extremely wary of relinquishing power when it comes to their brand and PR, like want to OK every message or reply, even if it massively delays the response to the all important customer

  • http://www.theoceanagency.com Danny Prager

    Hey Michael,

    Really interesting statistics and analysis.

    As a brand, how do you consistently add relevant content that grabs attention and isn't disruptive? I think a good solution to this is to find “brand evangelists” as you said, but are corporations ready to have brand evangelists and community managers act as their mouthpieces, rather than traditional communications tools?

    I think an interesting solution might also be to have multiple “ubiquitous” streams, and be extremely transparent about the engagement that comes from each one. Maybe there is an “official” stream for coporate news and press releases, a personal stream from a community manager/brand evangelist and then a “transparency” stream that shares interesting facts and grants behind the scenes acess to the company.

    What do you think? Thanks for the really insightful post.

  • etpickett88

    Great insights Michael, said from a guy “doing data insight” long before that was known or cool. Thank you :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Brito/900035396 Michael Brito

    @SocialMediaStylist

    “but the fact remains that companies are extremely wary of relinquishing power when it comes to their brand and PR”

    and there is the problem. They don't have full control anymore. The control they do have revolves around the level of participation on the social web.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Brito/900035396 Michael Brito

    @danny

    Thanks for the comment. You add relevant content by just bring “yourself”. If you work for HP and talk about all the great things the computer does and actually display some level of expertise, that's relevant.

    Traditional communication channels are not dead, don't get me wrong. However, as we are moving into a more social society, a message from a real person versus a logo or corporate entity is much more effective.

    I like the idea of multiple streams.

  • GabrielCarrejo

    I love “nobody reads it anyway.” Can't tell you how much time and money was wasted – actually, I can – at the now failed start-up I was at.

    Great post as usual!

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    Solid post and totally on point!

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  • http://friedgreenbananafish.wordpress.com/ friedgreenbananafish

    With social media well on its way to becoming the most-used feature of the internet, (http://weblogs.hitwise.com/alan-long/2010/01/po…) I agree that it is vital for anyone trying to publicize their brand (be it business or personal) to get connected with potential clients/employers through this medium.

    However, those promoting their brands need to maintain a sense of professionalism. I think we are all aware how easily a business relationship could sour by using social media. What if an employer sees “unsavory” photos of you on Facebook? Or you get a little “TMI” from a client?

    As with each new technology, the passage of time (along with experience) will help set out a certain list of procedures to distinguish between the “formal” and “informal”.

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