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Social Media: Managing Conversations and Reputations When the User Is In Control

Aug 20, 2009   |   Getting Social
Managing Conversations

This year, at SES San Jose 2009, social media experts got together to discuss how marketer’s can control and shape the conversations happening on social media channels. With the social media community now actively participating in the conversation behind the brand marketing strategy, these experts shared tips on how to control the activity and monitor the brand image while still leaving the voice in the hands of the users.

Anna Maria Virzi, Executive Editor, ClickZ

Dave Evans, VP, Digital Voodoo
Liana Evans,
Director of Social Media, Serengeti Communications
Brian Kalma, Head of User Experience and Web Strategy, Zappos
Mike Volpe, VP of Inbound Marketing, HubSpot

Dave Evans, VP at Digital Voodoo

  1. To understand the impact you can have with social media conversation, it is essential to understand the community buzz about your company and your product has on the buyers purchase cycle. Social media is replacing the old-fashioned word of mouth. Nothing is more powerful than a recommendation from your peers. As users are on the internet researching a purchase, the buzz they read on social channels about your product has a direct affect on their decision to purchase. After they do complete a purchase, and experience your product, they are now on the other end of the purchase funnel. They form an opinion and add to the conversation online.

    Google Results

  2. You can shape the conversation to turn your audience to positive noise makers by:
    a. Look for little things that will matter to your customers (e.g. deals and promotions, actively trying to perfect operations, personal messages to fans, etc…)
    b. Listen to the negative comments. Turn negative remarks into constructive positive feedback that can help you perfect the guest experience.
    c. What excites your audience about your property? What do they think is cool? Listen to what turns them on, and shape your brand accordingly.

Liana Evans, Director of Social Media, Serengeti Communications

How do you shape the conversation and make the most out of your evolving brand image?


  1. Understand who is in your audience – get to know who would actively seek you out on social channels, what demographic of active social users want to get to know you?
  2. Define your goals. What do you hope to accomplish after 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year? Besides revenue, what else can you benchmark for successes for your brand/company?
  3. Understand how your target audience acts in social media conversations. This will help you be more successful in the future with your social media campaigns and actions on social channels.
  4. Plan out your social media strategy. Look at your active social channels, and the amount of human bandwidth you have to participate. Set goals for upcoming 6 months in your social media campaign. Having a clear plan of action and checklist of action items will make execution streamlined.
  5. Tweak and revise as you go. Nothing will be set in stone. When you are actively working on social media channels, you will have to ebb and flow with the changes on each channel. Plan on being flexible with your strategy and goals. React and ACT upon new opportunities!

Mike Volpe, VP of Inbound Marketing, HubSpot

  1. Social media is our new version of lead generation. Marketing today is no longer shaped entirely by the brand itself through commercial, print ad, radio ads, etc…The brand marketing is now also controlled by the consumers themselves.
  2. In years past, the internet users would go to a search engine and find your website. The wave of the future is that users are now actively going to social channels to find your website. The dialogue on social channels about your product or brand has a major impact on the leads you generate to your website.
  3. All the content you post to social channels should be linkworthy and “shareworthy” with the community. Post PDFs, menus, coupons, promotions, bookable packages, ebrochures, and more. Things that are easy to pass online from one user to the next.

Brian Kalma, Head of User Experience and Web Strategy, Zappos

  1. Your audience online does not necessarily want to pick up the phone. They don’t want to do the work to find you. They don’t want to be blatantly sold anything. Instead, they want:
    a. To be engaged with your product / property.
    b. To be happy before taking action to purchase.
    c. To be able to research their buying decisions online.
    d. To peruse your property at their own leisure without strings attached.
    e. To know the real you (the real brand) not the PR or marketing side of you.
    f. You to act upon negative feedback, and make things right.
    g. You to respond in a timely matter to the conversation.

In summary, the social media conversation about your brand is manageable and actionable. With the proper amount of training, benchmarking goals, and strategy plans, any social media participation can be a positive one impacting your brand and the end user experience.

Contributed by: Natalie Evans, Milestone Internet Marketing

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