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09 Conversation > The conversation manager observes, facilitates and participat... - Pg. 145

Conversation 145 the same approach. If it sees an online discussion between consumers about the merits of different digital cameras, it will try to bring added value to these discussions by suggesting that the participants read certain (impartial) magazine articles. These are examples of proactive conversing at its best. Of course, the content strategy to be discussed in the next chapter is also an important element in the proactive management of con- versations. Giving people something to talk about is an ideal way to facilitate conversations about your brand. The conversation manager observes, facilitates and participates Since not everyone will have read The Conversation Manager, I will briefly describe the three basic steps to manage conversations. The first step is the observation of conversations on social media. The most frequently asked question in workshops about online conversation management is: `How can we take part in customer conversations?' We usually answer this with another question: `How long have you already been observing the conversations of your customers?' They look surprised for a moment, but then the penny drops. They suddenly realize that they haven't even got this far! The managing of conversations begins with a long period of observa- tion to find out what your customers are actually talking about. One of the key objectives is to understand the language of the customers, to learn how they speak about your brand. The second step is to think of ways in which you can facilitate these conversations. It is useful to have tools at your disposal that will allow you to talk efficiently to customers. Your aim is to make things as easy as possible for these customers to share information and experiences relating to your brand. These tools can sometimes be relatively simple things, such as the addition of a `share' button on the information page of your website. It is also necessary to ensure a regular supply of fresh and relevant content that is conversation- worthy (see below). Another way to facilitate conversations is through your own customer communities (also described later in the book). It is only during the third and final step that you actually start conversing with customers. It is best to join in these conversations as