Until recently, most major brands either ignored search marketing, or, at best, considered it a ‘lesser’ discipline than other marketing programs. In some cases it still is, but by and large, marketers now recognize that search is an integral piece of any integrated marketing strategy.
Conversational (Social if you prefer) media and marketing seems to be following the same trajectory. Conversational marketing is loosely defined as a marketing discipline that helps brands join and engage with communities in an authentic, transparent way that adds value to the ongoing conversation that is the social Web today.
Most brands are still very new to the conversational marketing discipline and its underlying concepts, even though it is every bit as important as a robust search marketing strategy. The case could be made, in fact, that conversational marketing is the more valuable of the two. When done well, conversational marketing has the ability to create connections with customers and elevate the organic search rankings of brands in a way static messages simply can’t while also creating stronger connections with the brand outside of the search realm.
Why? Because search loves conversational content. If the conversation is negative, your presence in search is equally negative. Look at the launch of Blackberry and Verizon’s Storm smart phone. The phone launched to much fanfare and incredibly robust sales. But, they appear to have a problem. Many consumers are unhappy with the product and they are returning it in droves. Take a look at this screen grab of Google search results for “Blackberry Storm Returns.”
Both Verizon and Blackberry voices are represented on this page but the top result is a blog (Silicon Alley Insider, a site I represent through my employer Federated Media) discussing the high return rate for the device. Imagine the person who is researching the return policy before making the leap to buy the Storm….
As another example, take a look at the search results for “Unilever.”
Take a look at the 5th result. It points to the following video on youtube:
This isn’t the conversation Unilever is looking to stimulate around their brand.
Can you eliminate these situations? Of course not. But your brand can and should be addressing these situations and focusing on creating a conversational platform that allows for authentic responses to negative conversations as well as stimulating conversations that reinforce your brand position and promise. In the future, I predict that conversational marketing techniques will be universally incorporated into every marketing strategy just as search and SEO are now considered necessary techniques. Many brands already have and they are reaping the benefits. Just like brands that have incorporated search into their broader marketing initiatives, brands that embrace and incorporate conversational marketing techniques will have a distinct advantage over brands that choose to ignore or segregate their work from broader messaging.