Why Brands Want to Have a

/// Why Brands Want to Have a “Two-Way Conversation” With You

May 13, 2013  |  Blog

When you first hear the phrase “two-way conversation,” you probably think, “Well, what other kind of conversation is there?” But when it comes to brands, this phrase embodies a very specific marketing strategy: personification.

Ever since the advent of social media, brands have been trying to engage consumers in ways that make them seem more like people, rather than large corporations trying like hell to sell you products or ideas.

Instead of the age-old press releases and ads that need to go through rounds of approval, social media-savvy employees (often from an ad agency) run a brand’s social accounts without much regulation from the powers-that-be.

Consumers have an endless number of choices in today’s markets, so brands use two-way conversation to get their attention, engage with and learn about them and personalize the online experience.

The result is a stream of highly personable and almost natural interactions, so much so that you might even forget that it’s a fast food giant you’re talking to, not a friend.

Terminology: Two Ways Are Better Than One

Why “two-way conversation”? This buzzword-y phrase is a way to distinguish the strategy from the equally buzzword-y phrase “one-way conversation” (sometimes referred to as one-way manipulation), in which a brand dominates the conversation or outputs information without really engaging.

Two-way conversation, then, is a strategy that a brand uses to exude a human quality, showing (or pretending to show) that they care about what you have to say. Instead of broadcasting, they’re engaging.

Even though the phrase is used widely, there are even some marketers who hate it. Tyler Fonda, strategy director at integrated communications agency Gotham Inc. (which works with brands such as Denny’s), told Fast Company earlier this year, “I think the term two-way conversation is insane. A brand is just some abstraction that ad people have created.”

But as social media evolves the way individuals communicate, it also opens doors for brands to interact with consumers in a direct and responsive way, with brand loyalty as the major goal.

Why Brands Started Two-Way Conversations

Social media has proved to be a useful marketing tool, but it isn’t a surefire path to positive engagement. In fact, there have been a number of social media disasters that have taught brands — the ones involved, as well as ones that weren’t — a lesson about social media and public relations.

Think of the guitarist in 2009 who made a viral YouTube video about how United Airlines broke his guitar and refused to pay for it, or Kenneth Cole’s #Cairo tweet during the Arab Spring. And who could forget KitchenAid USA’s anti-Obama Twitter mishap, or CelebBoutique’s oblivious tweet after the shooting in Aurora, Colo.?

Social media disasters are bound to keep happening, but by utilizing two-way conversation — and, in turn, paying close attention to what consumers are saying — brands have found it easier to avoid them.

Shining Examples

Despite many debacles, there are plenty of brands using two-way conversation successfully. Check out a few examples below:

Oreo:

Taco Bell:

Denny’s

JetBlue

The Last Word

If you’re speaking with a friend who has nothing valuable to contribute to the conversation, it’s not really a successful conversation, is it?

The same goes for brands. Using social media itself isn’t enough — ultimately, it all depends on how a brand interacts with its target audience. Brands should constantly think about how they’re representing themselves on social media, while consumers should remind themselves that they’re speaking to someone who is paid to represent the brand, rather than the brand itself.

Link: Why Brands Want to Have a “Two-Way Conversation” With You

Mashable – Matt Petronzio, Features Writer


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