In the best-selling book Conversational Capital: How to Create Stuff People Love to Talk About, authors Bertrand Cesvet, Tony Babinski and Eric Alper state that “experiences have residual value — value that extends further than mere memories but instead resides in the realm of identity-shaping and storytelling.. . when an experience is sufficiently powerful or transformative for an individual, they feel compelled to make the experience part of their own life story, and thereby propagate the story of the experience as part of their own (and now more exciting) identity.” This profound insight combined with an awareness of the degree of connectedness that exists in today’s high-tech world fascinates me. As an embedded journalist seeking to better understand this new connected culture and its implications for us, I’ve been prompted to inhabit a community of curious but industrious pioneers seeking to blaze a trail through this digital frontier – a community of farmers cultivating fruit from fields of knowledge, of miners prospecting gold from streams of innovation. The treasure we seek is conversational currency. Thus, Conversational Currency is an interactive community built around investigating, validating and implementing the idea that we can affect the meaning and intensity of word-of-mouth events.
The authors of Conversational Capital have identified 8 specific drivers of this new form of currency: Myths, Icons, Exclusive Product Offerings, Relevant Sensory Oddity, Tribalism, Endorsement and Continuity. The presence of one of more of these engines in a consumption experience makes it more likely to benefit from positive word-of-mouth. Continuity is the most critical. Continuity speaks to the integrity of your message: Between who you say you are, who people think you are and who you are. Continuity is crucial since any inconsistency can breed negative, even nasty, speak. Obviously, this should be avoided.
Social Media Strategist Jay Deragon recently stated that “conversational currency is created by people who share their enthusiasm for a topic, a conversation, with their peers. Because conversations are peer-mediated, they have more authority. However, what conversational currency reveals to us is the value conversations create, value that is reflected by endorsement, or propagation of a conversation by the community of peers.”
This is a vital concept to understand in today’s relationship-driven economy. A conversation converts to currency when people attach meaning to a conversational experience, a shared story. Thus, they are prompted to spread the story as if it were their own. Simple stories about their brand experiences, topical perspectives and innovative ideas become the raw material for minting a new form of exchange: conversational currency.
In this new type of transaction, individuals and brands can provide others with valuable conversational currency by simply telling their story. How? By leveraging the most powerful word-of-mouth marketing resource ever: Social media. Success is realized by using social media to deliver meaningful information, propagating knowledge and prompting innovative ideas and perspectives. As your return, the conversation propagates and, by extension, increases the value of the discussion by drawing attention, causing attraction, and creating an affinity. This results in an increase in your audience. Your audience then provides additional perspective and insights adding more value to the original conversation. It is this process that creates value and generates an actual exchange: Conversational Currency.
So, whether we realize it or not, our lives are being impacted not just day-by-day but moment-by-moment. Have you joined in the conversation? Are you generating conversational currency?