Social media started out as a broadcast medium ~ it was just one more platform from which brands could tout their wares. With the advent of web 2.0, there has since been a fundamental shift that has transformed social media into a two-way channel where consumers can not only engage in a two way conversation with brands, but with each other as well.

While some view this as a shift away from content to conversation, but it is really more of a paradigm shift away from content as static text and images to content as a dynamic conversational medium through which we can engage with our target audience.

“Content is Just Something to Talk About”

Conversation is only part of the social media picture – it can only sustain itself alone for a short period of time. The addition of compelling content
gives your audience something to converse about.

If content is king, then conversation is queen.
(John Munsell, 2010)

Content is the text, images, videos, and other elements that you create for consumption by your prospects and customers. Conversation is content that you co-create with your prospects and customers as you interact with them. It is two-way communication where your customer is actively engaged in helping shape their own online experience with your business.

Content as Conversation

Ginny Redish, author of the book Letting Go of the Words, describes content as conversation, and regards websites as our modern-day equivalent of telephones: “Think of your website or app as replacing not file cabinets but phones,” she writes. “Whether you text or talk on your phone, you’re conversing. You interact with people. You help them achieve what they came for… Make your site or app a good conversational partner.”

According to Redish, every visit to your website offers the potential for a conversation that is initiated by the visitor. This is a conversation that you and the site visitor engage in by means of the words and images – the content – on your website.

Writing Successful Conversations

Drawn from linguistic studies of successful (and less than successful) conversations, Redish offers these guidelines for creating content that will trigger successful conversations with your target audience:

*Use question headings: visitors take their turn by responding
*Write conversationally, using personal pronouns
*Spur action by writing in verbs
*Preemptively answer visitors’ what/why/who/when/where and how questions

Pitch-perfect Conversation

With traditional advertising such as direct mail, you initiate the conversation; when a person visits your site, they initiate the conversation. Your
site visitors will typically focus on just what they came for, bypassing marketing that is unrelated to meeting this objective.

You must first engage in the conversation that the visitor initiates before presenting your marketing message. “You must first satisfy the conversation
your site visitors came with before they are ready to “hear” marketing messages from you,” writes Rinesh. “When they are ready, you have a “marketing
moment”—a time in the conversation when site visitors are most open to new suggestions. Watch for these moments.”

Create and leverage your content as a conversational medium. Content as conversation is the most compelling content marketing strategy you can deploy.