Beyond Breaking the Ice

It’s the new year and everyone is making resolutions. One thing I’d like marketers to do is focus on moving past breaking the ice. Huh? What’s that?

Every now and again, clients ask what the value of a Facebook Like, Foursquare check-in, or Twitter follower is. Digital strategists (myself included) have tried to quantify these interactions into dollars and cents, with varying levels of degrees of success. In my mind, the thinking needs to evolve beyond the transactions and towards relationships. When a consumer likes your brand, think of it as an ice-breaker of a conversation — it’s the start of a dialog, the beginning of any relationship. Dialog requires back and forth, give and take, listening and speaking. Before you can expect any consumer to become an advocate, brands need to set themselves up to establish and more importantly maintain conversations on an ongoing basis.

For marketers, after an initial campaign launch, sustaining momentum and buzz is a challenge. There is usually a flurry of activity at the start but after a couple of weeks, scores of new followers and participants, the question becomes, “now what?”

The ice has been broken and now it’s time to maintain the relationship. It requires regular conversation about things that matter. It’s similar to exercising regularly; you can’t expect to remain fit if you only go once a year. To keep things interesting, you need to mix things up and have different conversations that are contextually relevant, otherwise you get stuck in a boring rut, like having the same gym routine day in day out. It’s been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. Conversations are no different, in that they need variety in purpose, tone and topic in order to keep interest up. If not, you run the risk of sounding like that relative at Thanksgiving dinner who talks about the same drivel year after year. No one said the art of conversation was easy, but isn’t that half the fun?


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