Conversational Marketing

Conversational marketing has entered as a new term in the increasingly crowded online marketing lexicon and I just wanted to weigh in for how it is to be used, especially with social media marketing.


I have tried to do a little research on where the term conversational marketing comes from, but without a lot of success.  There are David Masters and Louis Kelly from FogHound communications who attribute it to the authors of the The Cluetrain Manifesto.  Their article Marketing is a Conversation, through very clear examples talks to changing traditional marketing approaches from a broadcast or presentation style to creating more of an engaging conversation with audiences. Â My research also dug up a book, by Ian Lurie:Conversation Marketing: Common-Sense Internet Strategies which had a slightly different take on this. Ian draws an analogy between online marketing and the way one should ‘work a room’ at a party from knowing the room, dressing appropriately, sounding smart, etc.  I think that both of these approaches are great marketing reads, however, I do think that lately the term conversation marketing is starting to be used in the place of social media marketing and I see a big difference between the two.


To me, conversation marketing is all about the two or multi-way dialog among an audience or ideally, between a company and its market.  This is very close to the Masters and Kelly concept and would include the technologies such as event chats, live chats, message boards and any other more collaborative technology.  Conversation marketing is a sub-set of social media marketing.


Social media marketing is now a rich landscape of technologies and strategies those organizations are employing.  Social media marketing is the general category of marketing through which an array of technologies can engage, filter and broadcast user-generated content.  Within social media marketing there are sub-specialties that are emerging that I would break down as:

  • Conversation Marketing: Â Two-way dialogs with audiences or between audience members to build awareness or share information on a topic and to build site content.  Implementation technologies include: message boards, chat, event chat, IM and enhanced through social networking
  • Blog Marketing: One-way broadcast of opinions, thoughts and updates to maintain site traffic and audience awareness.  Implementation technologies include: blogs, micro-blogs
  • Opinion Marketing:  Gather opinions from audience of various online features to further engage visitors, highlight features, and demonstrate activity.  Implementation technologies include: polls, ratings, commenting
  • Widget Marketing:  Use embeddable objects on personal profiles, home pages or browser start pages to promote messages, ideas, events, or social media updates.  Implementation technologies include: Yahoo Gadgets, Google Gadgets, Facebook widgets, etc.
  • Profile Marketing:  Creation of a representative persona on a social network to promote the organization.  Implemented through set up on various popular social networking sites: MySpace, Facebook, etc.


Just as public relations has a range of sub-specialties, social media marketing is more than just conversation marketing and is emerging as a very powerful and diverse set of marketing tools.



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