The urge to converse is as old as man himself. And yes, I do believe that it predates the development of language. I mean, how many of us can sit still without wanting to share our thoughts with someone else. But up until a few years ago, conversation was just something that was taken for granted. It was certainly an integral part of life with people spending hours chatting whether in person or on the phone. But was it given any importance? Perhaps at the dinner table. But certainly not when it came to doing business. In fact, conversation was frowned upon.
But the tides have turned. Conversation is the in thing now, especially when it comes to marketing. Let’s define conversation first. Wikipedia defines it as “a form of interactive, spontaneous communication between two or more people who are following rules of etiquette.” So why has conversation suddenly risen in prominence? Only because the rules of the marketing game have undergone a paradigm shift. Earlier, it used to all be about one way communication – a monologue. Organizations sought control. It was during the mid 90s that they began to understand the importance of dialogue. But only after the advent of social media are we now seeing an explosion in online conversations.
Social media has touched more than a billion people worldwide. And it has rewritten the rules of the game. There is no authority to control it; it takes a life of its own. So organizations can no longer push information down the throats of their customers. They are just not interested. The control aspect has long gone. At the same time, organizations cannot afford to sit out. The social media wave has taken the business world by storm. Marketing is all about the customer and understanding their wants. Social media allows organizations to tap into this sea of information. And gives access to likes, dislikes, opinions and everything in between. What more could marketers want than to get deep insights into how their customers think?
Conversations are here to stay. Marketing can no longer dictate, it can only participate, and at best, hope to engage.