Scott Stratten once said:
Conversation isn't a campaign. Do something worth talking about instead of asking people to talk about it.
That's the problem with designing something to "go viral," asking your customers (or worse, non-customers) to like you on Facebook or spamming people with email. Marketers for too long have treated conversation as a campaign, and it just doesn't work.
Who Do You Like at a Party?
Who is often the most popular person at a party? The person buzzing around handing out business cards, jumping from one person to the next, always on the lookout for a "more interesting" person? Or, the person who spends time to get to know a few people more deeply, on a more personal level?
Obviously, that's an easy answer, but so many marketers feel that the "best practices" of a social setting don't apply to a business relationship.
It's not entirely their fault. For years, that has been the way to connect with a market. Put as much information out there as you can and hope that some people will latch on to a part of it. Each day, that strategy becomes less and less effective.
Ultimately, brands need to connect with the markets they serve. But, it must be on the customer's terms, not the brand's
Talking AT Someone is Not a Conversation
Many marketers will hear the conversational drum being beaten these days and say, "Ok, we need to have a conversation with people. So, tell people how great we are and get them to start talking about us. Right?"
That's what Scott means when he says that conversation is not a campaign. Again, in a social situation, the people who you enjoy spending time with are not those that drone on and on about themselves. They find topics of mutual interest with you or, even better, talk about you.
That's why it's so important to take a long view when we talk about conversation between a brand and a customer. This is not a quick hit tactic designed to flare up and then fizzle out in the course of a day, week or month. This is a technique that demands patience and an accpetance of uncertainty.
If you want people to talk about you or your brand, don't ask them to do so. That's like having to explain why a joke is funny. Instead, do something to inspire them to talk about you on their own. That's the only way to ensure that people will talk about you for the long-term.