The value of conversations

IE Focus | By Enrique Dans, Professor at IE Business School

The Internet is a permanently ongoing conversation in which people recommend, redirect, provide links, etc. The value of your website depends on how involved you are in this conversation.

One of the main advantages of a solid Internet presence is its capacity to serve as a subject of conversation. Today, everything is about conversation. A campaign, a product launch, the publication of findings, or an appearance on the news, are only worth as much as their capacity to take center stage in a permanently ongoing conversation in which we all participate.

Technology has lowered barriers to entry in the publishing sector to the extent that today an enormous number of people are now able to be constantly involved in that particular conversation. The consequences of this are clear: the value of your brand is directly related to the extent to which it features in said conversation.

Contrary to what company directors may think after decades of unidirectional marketing, the conversation cannot be controlled. The most you can hope for is to be one of the voices taking part. If your web presence is good enough, the people talking about you will have a place to link up with each other when they do. They will be able to include a link to a relevant part of your website in their comments, where it is possible to find information that is permanently available (nobody wants to provide a link to information that disappears after a certain amount of time, and only serves to bring up a message saying “Error 404: not found”) and interesting references (information on products, photos, logos, comment, reactions, etc.).


IE Focus || Causes

By Enrique Dans, Professor at IE Business School, published on IE Focus

Social networks have the capacity to mobilize millions of people in defense of a cause, regardless of their location. The far-reaching impact of this is now starting to show.The expansion of social networks has had one extremely interesting effect: the proliferation of causes or claims capable of garnering the support of a large number of people, sometimes very quickly. When this occurs, the person promoting the cause in question cites the number of people involved as evidence of support, whereas sceptics and detractors try to downplay it by talking about of the scant value of support provided by merely using an index finger to click on a mouse. 

Who should we believe? Can we consider this type of group as tangible evidence of support, the virtual equivalent of a street demonstration with banners and slogans, or does the practically zero effort required to support the cause mean it is worth very little? The social importance of this issue is growing as the number of social network users increases: Spain has the highest number of social networks users in the world (according to the latest figures, we are talking about around ten million active users on Facebook and around eight million on Tuenti). As a result, many are starting to see social networks as a kind of “trend laboratory” or a gauge for measuring the “social mood”, a kind of permanent, real-time survey on the widest possible variety of subjects.


IE Focus || Social web and involvement

By Enrique Dans, Professor at IE Business School, published on IE Focus

One of the key factors driving the boom in so-called social media is customer involvement, now the subject of extensive study.One of the main drivers of the boom of the so-called social media is so-called customer involvement. This represents a measure of how far the customer gets involved with the sender of the message, and is now the subject of extensive study.

Have you ever considered the general effect your messaging has on your target public? In a world full of media that is technologically limited to being unidirectional, the answer to this question was very inexact: we could only find out by using panels or surveys, which were always approximate, and we were unable to associate the answer with specific subjects or try to measure it in purely binary terms: one, buys the product or service, or zero, doesn´t buy it. This absence of information means that communication via the net can be measured or evaluated in a large number of ways that businesses are starting to discover. 

On the social web, users´ reactions are gauged by that fundamental variable: involvement. The minimum involvement of a user in terms of content is to simply “watch it go by”; the content appears and the user simply moves on to something else without interacting with it. Display advertising, for example, is a clear case of this: we can´t even be sure of whether or not the user has actually seen it or stopped to look at it. In fact, display advertising is a luxury in comparison with other media: we can at least know whether or not a specific user has received the impact and then act accordingly. In the press, we can only know the number of newspapers that have been sold and, on television, we have to trust a frugal scattering of audience meters that provide measurements that are poor and few and far between, but which everyone decides to believe since there is nothing better.