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What's your 2016 conversation strategy?

There isn't a marketing meeting that goes by without the mention of content marketing. It's a silver bullet for all marketing problems as people are blocking or not paying attention to ads. So instead of giving the same content and in the same way, we are trying to give something of value instead, which is a well-intended attempt to overcome the problem at hand. But it needs something else. The challenge is that digital is a live channel, not a static one and content without conversation is a one-way street. To build a relationship with our audience, we need to move beyond content and get into a conversation and truly engage them. 
I understand that many people might consider content and conversation to be one in the same, but I dare to differ. We can push all of the content in the world and still not have a conversation. Newspapers and publishers do that in their print and TV and, to some extent, in digital. Today, most of the media is interactive. The expectation is for people to have a conversation in real-time. As this expectation continues to evolve, it is becoming more and more apparent that just pushing content isn't a good enough strategy. We need a conversation strategy that takes into accounts: context, content and an audience's ability to respond in real time. Let's unpack these three terms and their implications. 
Context is about relevancy. The environment shapes the conversation. 
If you're ordering coffee early in the morning, you're probably ordering it because coffee helps to start your day. In that situation, communication should be about coffee in the context of starting or planning for the day and not just about the taste of coffee or a 15% discount on a cup of joe. 
But the conversation changes if someone orders coffee in the evening because they're ordering the drink to keep them going through the night. In this case, the communication should be about coffee giving an extra boost to get things done. 
Content is about advancing the conversation. Otherwise, it can easily become disruptive or annoying. 
Sticking with the coffee example, if you plan to use the idea that coffee is a kickstarter to your day, then you might want to consider providing additional content that deepens the conversation. This could be something like an inspirational quote or tips on how to get the most out of your day. 
But if you're talking about coffee as a way to keep you going through the night, you might want to consider including recommendations on songs that will keep you motivated during those late hours at the office. 
Finally, the ability to respond and react in the moment is what make us human. It's what actually builds relationships. 
It's great to provide tips to help your audience to get through the day, but it's even better to have a conversation about the tips or songs that resonate the most with them and how they made a difference. This builds a relationship and keeps the conversation going-- it shows that you are invested in the conversation and learning more about them. 
In summary, digital is live so it's all about context. Digital is a medium so it focuses on content. And, most importantly, digital is human so it's a genuine conversation with people. To build a human brand, we need to have a human conversation.


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