The public is already conversing. A company can not simply join and infiltrate these conversations. Some would say that distinguishing dialogue from the conversation returns to play on words. No doubt, but the more words are specific the more the actions they enjoin us to have will gain greater precision and efficiency.
A conversation is something, we enter into, we initiate it, we provoke it. That is what pleases us : the idea that the company can maintain and control a conversation.
I prefer the word dialog and even the "dialogism," a concept coined by Mikhail Bakhtin, a Russian theorist of literature. For Bakhtin, the choice of a type of speech presupposes an intention from the speaker or writer. This leads to variety of genres, variety of spheres, and variety of intentional set. As a company to be reflected in social media, we are somewhat in the role of a narrator. Who will we tell what to whom ? What can earn an the attention from the public ?
A platform for dialogue prepared according to the rules of dialogism. What are these rules?
In literature, the narrator’s monologue hides a constant dialogue with a virtual reader, carrying certain expectations that he wants to satisfy or disappoint. The traces of this dialogue are usually deleted in literary speech. It was the same in the language of advertising before. But today, if we simply join the conversation, we will have no virtual dialogue. In the virtual world of the net and social media, we are facing actual consumers that did start speaking before us. It is therefore important to know what they say, in order to prepare us to speak on that basis. Nothing new, you say? No, except that fans of conversation can cause you to skip this step. The biggest fans will tell you to invite consumers who visit your site to come follow you on Facebook or on Twitter. In doing so, we begin to promote Facebook and Twitter, we invite people to leave the world of our website and our brand. We fall in the conversation and it's stupid. This does not mean that we should not go on Facebook or they should not use Twitter but we should perhaps think about reversing the flow and bringing these social communities into a company’s own business platform for dialogue .
1. organize the many voices that the narrative enterprise engaging with the public will have to structure in the long term. Who's talking about what to whom and who plays who on what. We shall see, this will doubtless involve the hiring and commitment of a community manager rather than a conversation manager. To create and manage a community is obviously more ambitious than just joining the conversation.
2. Engaging the entire enterprise: In Greek, Dia does not mean "two" as it is believed, as opposed to monologue, dia means "through". And we must regain the confidence that the whole company, from one end to another of the value chain, has to be involved into the company’s story while entering into dialog with the external world. We will see later that this concept is both creating value and reducing costs for the company. The dialogue is not limited to marketing. It must go through all the links in the value chain of the company. Each department that creates value: the research department, sales, marketing, customer service, distribution, etc..
3. Plot: In dialogue there is the word "log" which in English is the diary (log book), the trace of the past. Companies better plot their dialogs in social media. Each of them allowing to improve the next one. Plotting input and feedback builds your learning curve end enriches very participant to the dialog.
4. Challenging and enriching: The most famous dialogues are philosophical dialogues of Plato. Dialogism imposes the same constant questioning powered by the feedback and the speech of the public who enter into dialogue with your company and its philosophy.
5. Be useful in the everyday life of your stakeholders. In dialogue there is the Latin root word "day" found in the English words "diary". This dialogue must now come to enrich the daily lives of the company and its stakeholders including the consumer. I mentioned this in my previous book with the concept of creating Superior Value of Use. This value creation requires the knowledge of people’s everyday life. Web 2.0 allows you to digg into it and they are willing to participate. As long as a company commits to help them improving it.
The steps are simple to begin then: Listening, speaking, vitalizing, supporting and embracing a commitment from one end to another. Welcome in what we call End To End External Engagement at Dialog Solutions.
Once these principles are acquired, we can begin to lead the company in the social networks in small steps. Because it is necessary that all stakeholders of the company adhere to dialogue. Everyone needs to commit. We can start a conversation, for sure. Engaging in dialogue goes further. The idea of engagement in the dialogue itself involves the idea of commitment : we are engaged. And the issue is certainly this one, once that trust is established or restored, company need to get engaged with its stakeholders for better or for worse.